There aren’t many internationals playing in the NCL, and there certainly aren’t many lawyers either, but Adam Vrahnos’ signing with Rochdale Mayfield is a real testament to how much he loves the sport.
After coming to the UK to work in shipping and maritime law, last year, a professional contract with Rochdale Hornets couldn’t quite fit into the Greek international’s tight schedule.
A potential working post in the North East was also considered and a move to London as well, before that, but the 27-year-old had prioritised a move to Manchester instead.
“One of the determining factors for me coming to Manchester was Rugby League,” he told Total Rugby League. “I was originally supposed to be going to London and I was also interviewing for a firm in Newcastle.
“I had a friend of mine, Jordan Meads, who played in the Greek team had played for Newcastle Thunder.
“I was floating the option to play for a team in the North East and then, when I decided to go to Manchester, Luke Srama (Rugby League recruitment consultant) put me in contact with Rochdale Hornets. I was training with them for a while but I was a bit constrained because of work commitments.
“A few guys that I was training with at Rochdale had been signed from Mayfield. I sent Mayfield a message on Facebook and went down to training.
“It’s been great so far. The club have been really welcoming, helpful and accommodating with me. It’s a top amateur club, there’s a bunch of guys who have gone up to League 1 and guys who’ve dropped down. There’s a lot of really strong players, I’ve only played three games but I’ve loved it at the minute.”
Manchester won the decision for Vrahnos’ work position and, with a pinch of irony, he helped his new teammates defeat London Chargers 32-12 on his first Rochdale Mayfield outing.
That game began a new chapter in a nomadic career for the former Canterbury Bulldogs youngster, having played rugby union in both Germany with Hannover 78 and USA with Atlanta Old White.
His final side in Australia after his move to the UK was Sydney University, where he played alongside brother Jake. And the two have shared the field on a number of occasions, on the international stage, and represented their Greek heritage.
They featured in the both the 2018 Emerging Nations and in World Cup qualifiers in the run-up to Greece’s surprise qualification for the competition. With next year’s edition set to be held in the UK, closer to Vrahnos’ new home, he hopes to cement his place in the national squad.
“I’d love to be involved in the World Cup squad when it comes around. Rugby League has always been a big part of my life and I was leaning towards not playing and focusing on work,” he added. “I didn’t want to keep standing up in court in front of a judge with a black eye, as a lawyer.
“It was massive to be part of Greece qualify for the World Cup. People like Terry Liberopoulos, George Stilianos, Steve Georgallis, Aris Dardamanis and Michali Chatziioannou have put in a lot of time and effort to get Greece even to a position close to the World Cup. Everyone involved has been striving towards to the same goal. There is a long way to go but everyone is proud of the effort so far.
“The only thing that’s kept me putting myself through the various injuries and keeping going is the thought of playing at the World Cup with Greece. If I get an opportunity to be in the squad, that’s what it’s all about.
“Terry called me in 2012 and I was living in Germany. There was a friendly that I couldn’t play, but I kept in touch with them and I was keen to get involved.
“I put him onto my brother Jake, instead. He’s been playing for RC Salon XIII in the Elite Two competition in France and has played more games for Greece than me.
“As soon as I got the chance to represent my heritage I did, which was against Japan in a friendly for the first time. After that, I went on to play in the Emerging Nations Tournament and then the World Cup Qualifiers.
“My grandparents from both sides are Greek. They came over to Australia in the 1950s and had my parents in Australia. I am proud of my heritage and as soon as I was eligible for citizenship, I got all that sorted, and it made coming over to the UK a great deal easier.”
Vrahnos now wants to stay in the shipping industry, and perhaps the UK, for the long haul and may flirt with the idea of testing the waters at a higher level in Rugby League.
“If the opportunity called I’d like to play at a higher level,” he admitted. “It would really depend on the time commitment. I’m also studying to be a qualified lawyer in the UK, at the minute it’s work and study until at least May.
“I want to keep fit and playing footy until then and, if an opportunity presents itself, I’d certainly consider taking the step up to a higher competition but for now I am absolutely loving it at Rochdale Mayfield and want to be part of what is shaping to be a successful season with a great group of guys.”