Debbie Knight Meets Iliess Macani

31st March 2021

At one time the rugby league teams in London were full of Australian players. Things have changed in London in that time and more than a few home grown players have come through both Skolars and Broncos. One such is a real favourite of mine, Iliess Macani, it was great to get the opportunity to talk to him about his life in rugby league.

We started at the beginning – how did a lad at school in Haringey end up with a Rugby League contract? Look no further than the work London Skolars do in the community. Iliess was playing football and in fact played for QPR at U15’s and U17’s, as well as using the speed we’d see on a rugby league pitch, in Athletics. He went to a tournament at New River with his school team, which they won, he impressed and James Massara invited Iliess to train at the club and the rest is history. At 16 he had a contract with the Skolars, but on the insistence of his very sensible Mum he carried on with his schooling completing both GCSE’s and A Levels.

Iliess went on an U19’s trial at London Broncos, a successful trial, he then played in the Reserves before moving into the first team. His debut in Superleague came at St Helens and he announced his arrival with a try. Unlike Skolars the Broncos have moved grounds on more than a few occasions, that led to no fewer than 5 moves for Iliess between 2013 and 2015.

2015 was his best season with the Broncos, he played 28 times, scoring 12 times, he was in the middle of a 2 year contract and the Number 5 shirt became his for the 2016 season. During these years, he like several other players over the years had a dual contract with his Junior Club, London Skolars. He played 7 times and scored 4 tries. From a fans perspective, Iliess at full speed with ball in hand is a sight to behold! Experiencing the dual registration scenario will, Iliess feels prove to be invaluable in his new role as Assistant Coach at Skolars, more of that later.

From Broncos he headed to Bradford Bulls – in his own words that was both the best and worst time of his life. He experienced a long tried system and a great pre-season and bonded well with his new team mates. The Bulls had seen some torrid years and went into liquidation in January 2017. Iliess re-signed with the new set up but had several months without pay; it was a time he learnt a lot about himself. He played 25 games in 2017 for the Bulls, scoring 10 tries.

Next up was Sheffield Eagles, he played 17 games, but again made his was back to Skolars 5 times during the season, 2019 onwards and Iliess is all Skolars! His role at the club has expanded for this season to join Jermaine Coleman as Assistant Coach. The club are helping him complete his Level 2 Coaching Qualification this year and he has plans to move on to Level 3 next year. Iliess will still be doing his thing on the pitch and is joined by an exciting squad

The 2019 season saw the club soar then drop back when some key loan players returned to Wigan, the hope for this season is for consistency while relying on the clubs own players. The first match happens on May 8th and we have to hope we can get back into that stand at the New River Stadium.

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