Peter Mamouzelos in action playing for Greece Photo: Facebook/ Greek Rugby League Association
20-year-old Peter Mamouzelos is still buzzing from his official NRL debut with the South Sydney Rabbitohs on 12 June.
The young rugby league player, who is also a fixture in the Greece’s national rugby league team, has been training for years to make it to this moment.
“It was a dream come true. Wayne [Bennett] told me throughout the week that I had a good chance of playing but I didn’t really know until the Captain’s Run which is the day before the game. He told me that they wanted to rest Cookie [Damien Cook] and that I was going to make my debut and then obviously the nerves kicked in after that,” he told Neos Kosmos.
“I was really nervous leading into the game, I didn’t eat much. I had an early night that night, woke up in the morning, went for breakfast, again didn’t eat much and just relaxed throughout the day. When I got to the ground my nerves sort of went away and when I went on the field I had so much adrenaline. After the game was such a good feeling.”
At the end of the game he was surrounded by close family and friends, just as thrilled to see him out on the field. Of course, the two shining jewels in his group of fans were his parents.
“My parents ride the highs and the lows with me, they know everything that I go through and they’re just always there for me. To be honest, I don’t think I’d be here today without them,” Mamouzelos said.
Following his debut with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Mamouzelos talks to Neos Kosmos about beefing up in pre season, overcoming injury and falling in love with the game.
Peter Mamouzelos (left) is gearing up for the World Cup Photo: Facebook/ Greek Rugby League Association
What drew you to rugby league?
I started pretty young, I was about seven years old. My dad always used to take me to all the South Sydney games growing up. He was a Redfern boy. When I was a young boy my grandparents lived in Redfern and I used to go visit them. They would send me out to go get coffees, and on my way to the coffee shop was Redfern Oval so I used to stop by and watch all the boys train.
Just from a young age, I fell in love, especially with the Rabbitohs. I always had the dream to play for them one day.
It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?
Not much to be honest, I just relax and think about what I have to do in the game. Throughout the week we watch video of the teams we verse and I get to know what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are.
So leaning into the game I just sort of focus, relax, listen to some music, that’s about it.
Top 3 training songs?
I like a bit of 50 Cent, I don’t have specific songs but I have artists that I like listening to. Tupac, Sheff G, all those sort of rappers, I really like their sort of music.
What do you find most challenging about the game?
When I first came into the First Grade system I was a bit smaller than everyone else so I needed to work on my defense. that was probably the most challenging part but during pre season I put on a bit of weight and I could handle the contact better.
Just as the months have gone on, I’m feel like I’m handling it a lot better. Obviously its part of the transition from 20s to Canterbury Cup and then First Grade, so I think it was just the contact but I think I’m nailing it now.
What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?
My First Grade debut. That tops it off, and playing for Greece is also something I’m very proud of.
Peter Mamouzelos (Far Left) made his debut with the South Sydney Rabbitohs on 12 June Photo: AAP/Supplied by NRL Photos, Gregg Porteous
How has rugby league impacted your life?
It’s had a massive impact. I remember when I first started playing at Maroubra Lions, that’s my junior club, that’s where I met all my friends and to this day they’re all still my best friends.
Whenever I was bored I’d go to the backyard and kick the footy around. It’s just always been a part of my life. After school, footy training was always something I looked forward to, I couldn’t wait to go to footy training and see all the boys and just spend time with them, doing what I love.
What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?
Probably resilience. Last year I had shoulder injury and at the time I was pretty down about it but I knew if I just worked hard and get fit again and recover from it that I’d be good. So being resilient and working hard to achieve what you want to achieve. I think that’s I’ve I’ve learnt most.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
I’d like to play a few more First Grade games and just keep up. Hopefully if I get the opportunity again I can make the most out of it and just keep working hard and always try to improve. I think that’s my biggest goal.
You’ve got to have good balance. I was at uni for a bit, I deferred a couple of weeks ago because I was really focused on making my debut but I’m going to get back into it now and have another side of footy that I can concentrate on.
Favourite way to unwind after a game?
Probably get dinner, get something to eat and just relax, watch a movie and spend time indoors, just kicking my feet up.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
I really want to play a few more First Grade games and then lead into the World Cup and have a good World Cup with the Greece team. It’s England, so that’s going to be good.
Our manager has kept in contact with all of us so we have a few nights where we go out for dinner and we just catch up. As we get closer to the date we’ll have a few training camps where we’ll all come in for a week and train together and just try to gel before we go over there.
What is something you want to be remembered by?
I want my teammates and people to know me as a guy who always competed and a player that never let them down on and off the field. That’s probably been my main goal, to be a good teammate on and off the field and someone that gave their all to the team.