Iakopo to terrorise BRL

Isis Town and Country - - Sport - By MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

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.”

PHOTO: ZACH HOGG

THE RE­TURN: Tele­foni Iakopo (above) will re­turn this sea­son while the club is still chas­ing Kurt Thomp­son (be­low).

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