Centurions pair McMain and Braniff complete whirlwind tour of duty in Belgrade

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 December 2017

Niall Braniff (far left) and Len McMain (far right) with players and officials of Red Star Belgrade Rugby League Club.

Niall Braniff (far left) and Len McMain (far right) with players and officials of Red Star Belgrade Rugby League Club.

Archant

A St Albans Centurions duo are back from a whirlwind tour of duty in Serbia with tales of silverware and a host of memories.

Len McMain and Niall Braniff of St Albans Centurions and Zeljko Delic from Red Star Belgrade with the Serbian Grand Final trophy. Len McMain and Niall Braniff of St Albans Centurions and Zeljko Delic from Red Star Belgrade with the Serbian Grand Final trophy.

Forward Niall Braniff and physio Len McMain were part of the Red Star Belgrade squad who tasted victory in the Serbian Rugby League Grand Final before feeling the hurt of defeat in the Balkans Superleague Grand Final.

The opportunity came around because of McMain’s connections with the Serbian national side, for whom he is also the physiotherapist.

He had been called up to help out the Red Star boys in their two big finals but whilst he was out there he seemed to be roped in to every competition they ran.

In his two weeks out there he was not only the main physio for the two grand finals for the senior side but was also involved in the U18s cup final between Red Star and Partizan Belgrade, an U18 representative game between Belgrade and Bosnian side Vitez and a play-off final between New Belgrade and Nis.

As if that wasn’t enough, McMain did two PR photo shoots for Red Star’s sponsors, an interview on Serbia television’s main news channel, while sporting a Cents top, and ran an advice workshop for the national side.

And then to finish it all off, McMain was match side physio at the international game between Serbia and Greece, where he was introduced to Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia and the Australian ambassador to Serbia.

McMain said: “Rugby league is taking off big time in the Balkans.

“They love the speed and toughness of the sport and anyone who has any connection with rugby league in the UK or Australia is really made to feel welcome.

“While you’re there, they try and learn as much as they can from you, whether it’s regarding playing, administration, coaching or in my case, physiotherapy.

“I always enjoy my time there. I find the Serbians a very friendly and welcoming people who love their sport.

“Who knows, in a little while we might have a couple of Serbians playing for the Centurions.”

But for now it is back to the day job, which in McMain’s case is running his Mainline Sports and Injury Clinic as well as being physio for both Biggleswade Town and Arlesey Town football clubs.

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