Iakopo to terrorise BRL
THERE aren’t too many names that can instantly send shivers up opposition spines, but then again there aren’t too many blokes like Telefoni Iakopo.
The massive Samoan unit struck fear into the Bundaberg Rugby League last season, and left a trail of destruction in his wake whenever he strapped on the boots.
Now it’s been confirmed the big man will return for the Isis Devils, and the club’s hierarchy couldn’t be happier.
Coach Simon Ricciardi didn’t want to make too big a deal about the “gentle giant’s” return, but there’s no way anyone could keep a lid on Iakopo’s impending destruction.
“He’s definitely a big asset to have coming back,” Ricciardi said.
Iakopo and Jake Thompson will return to Devils colours this season, and most players from last year’s grand final run are resigned.
Thompson’s brother Kurt remains an unclaimed piece of a potential premiership-winning puzzle, but Ricciardi applied the blow torch to get him across the line.
“(It would be ideal) if we can arrange Kurt to do the same thing as he did last year,” Ricciardi said. “He played when he was available.
“We’re putting a bit of pressure on Jake to talk him into it and we’re working on Kurt.”
After simply hearing stories about his playing style you can understand why much of the BRL’s focus will be on Iakopo.
The heavy-hitting forward ran foul of BRL referees and the judiciary at the start of last season, with several solid hits interpreted instead as dangerous contact.
The club worked with Iakopo to adjust his tackling style as a result, but that didn’t stop the Samoan putting the hurt on most opponents.
“I guess he got the bad end of the stick from the refs and ended up getting penalised a lot,” Ricciardi said.
“A lot of people seemed to have made up their mind about him before we got on the field. We worked with him a lot though and everything was fine after a few weeks.”
The first grade Devils have the bye in the first round before they travel to Maryborough’s Eskdale Park to face Waves Tigers on March 21.Reserve open the season against Maryborough Brothers at Stafford Park on March 7.
“Hopefully we’ll see a bigger and better Telefoni.”
THE RETURN: Telefoni Iakopo (above) will return this season while the club is still chasing Kurt Thompson (below).