Written by Stuart McLennan
Greece international prop forward Stefanos Bastas has signed with Elite 1 side St Gaudens and joined the squad in southwestern France.
St Gaudens, who last won the championship in 2003-04, currently sit in seventh position on the French Elite 1 table with two wins from six matches.
Bastas saw his career come to a shuddering halt in March 2020 courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. After leaving Doncaster, where he made nine appearances and scored two tries, he teamed up with fellow Greek ‘bookend’ Giannis Rousoglou at Villegailhenc-Aragon before the Elite 2 championship was cancelled due to the restrictions.
At the time he said that he was just “gaining momentum” after it took him a while to get used to life in the South of France and declared he had “unfinished business” in the country.
When the French Elite 2 completion was cancelled, Bastas took the opportunity to complete his six-month national service in the Greek army, finishing in mid-December and maintaining his fitness while waiting for the next playing opportunity.
In a series of ‘firsts’ the Greek forward who started his rugby league journey with the Rhodes Knights, was the first Greek domestic player to sign a professional contract when he commenced playing with Hemel Stags in the English League One Division in 2018 before moving to Doncaster in 2019.
A Greek domestic player is yet to appear in the French Elite 1 competition.
There is no doubt Bastas, who has made 14 appearances for his country, will use his experience at St Gaudens to prepare for 2021 World Cup selection in October.