Centurion to serve tour of duty with famous Serbian club Red Star Belgrade

PUBLISHED: 16:17 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:18 09 November 2017

St Albans Centurions' Niall Braniff is greeted at Belgrade Airport before his stint with Red Star.

St Albans Centurions' Niall Braniff is greeted at Belgrade Airport before his stint with Red Star.

Archant

Billy Bragg once sang about his uncle playing for Red Star Belgrade – he could now do the same for one player of the St Albans Centurions.

Niall Braniff in the colours of St Albans Centurions. Niall Braniff in the colours of St Albans Centurions.

The Toulmin Drive-based rugby league club already have close links with the sport in Serbia as their physio, Len McMain, also doubles up as physio for the Serbian national side.

And because of the link Cents prop Niall Braniff will be running out in the colours of the famous Belgrade club’s rugby league team for the next couple of months.

Braniff flew out to Serbia, where he joined the club for the last few weeks of their season.

This season Red Star are trying and consolidate top spot in the Serbian League and win the Grand Final and also get to the finals of the Balkan Superleague, a competition for teams from Serbia, Hungary, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Turkey.

St Albans Centurions' Len McMain. St Albans Centurions' Len McMain.

Braniff said: “I was talking with Len about European rugby league and he just happened to mention that Red Star were looking to strengthen their team in the build up to a very busy end of season.

“I mentioned what a great opportunity it would be to play out there, and, to cut a long story short, Red Star looked at a few videos of me playing, made enquiries and asked me to join them.

“I’m now just waiting for a few details to be confirmed but I am really looking forward to this experience.”

St Albans Centurions chairman Andy Lake said: “We are all pleased that Niall will be getting the experience of playing in another country.

“Serbia is one of the great success stories of our sport.

“Rugby league started there in 2001, and now there are 17 clubs and over a thousand registered players, and each year the numbers increase.

“Several Serbian players have already had trials with Superleague clubs in this country.”

Braniff will be joined in the Balkans by McMain with Red Star facing eternal rivals in the Serbian Grand Final on Sunday and then the Grand Final of the Balkans Superleague the week after.

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