Former Balmain prop Steve Edmed, having coached Lachlan Ilias for longer than anyone else, knew it was only a matter of time before he was bound for the NRL.
“I knew that all we had to do was get him into a program,” said Edmed, who coached Ilias for almost a decade at the Leichhardt Wanderers.
“Right from day one, he was one of those kids who had all the talent and ability, but also a great support group around him with his parents. He’s just a really good down-to-earth kid, nothing really fazed him too much.
“If you told him to do something, you needed to be careful how you phrased it, because he would do exactly what you said. He’s got a really good passing game, a really good kicking game.
“The kid can run the football as well. He’s strong, he’s quick, he’s pretty much an all-round footballer. He just needed to get a break.”
That break will come in the form of an NRL debut in the South Sydney No.7 jersey alongside his idol, Benji Marshall. Ilias grew up hoping that opportunity would come at the Tigers, although a different sort of break put paid to that.
South Sydney Rabbitohs playmaker Lachlan Ilias.
The Trinity College product was touted as one to watch while in the Tigers junior system, until he broke his fibula playing rugby sevens for NSW in a tournament in Queensland in late 2017. The recovery process took longer than expected and the Tigers felt he would never be the same player again. The club instead turned their attention to another playmaker, Jock Madden, who will also get an opportunity to impress this weekend.
That decision led him to joining the Rabbitohs, where he is touted as a contender to become the long-term replacement for Adam Reynolds.
“That’s exactly the situation,” Edmed said. “I definitely think [he can be the long-term halfback]. Right from day one, he had all the attributes. He’s a good kid and a good person to go with it.
“Obviously I would have preferred he stayed at the Tigers, but he’s made the right decision for him. We’re all Bunnies this weekend.”
Lachlan Ilias dreamed of playing for the Tigers, but the club had other plans.
Ilias and Edmed’s son, best mate Tane, played league and union coming up through the ranks. Tane opted to focus on the 15-man code, Ilias stuck with league. The former Australian Schoolboy will now make his debut alongside his idol and fellow young guns Blake Taafe and Peter Mamouzelos, members of the Rabbitohs’ premiership-winning SG Ball side.
“It’s like the Tiger and the cub,” said Ilias’ father, Arthur.
“Like most Tigers supporters in the Balmain set up, he looked up to Benji. It’s a blessing
when Benji signed this year, we couldn’t have written the script that in his debut, that he will be Benji’s halves partner.
“You can’t make that stuff up.”
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