At only 21 years of age, Jon Magrin has already played his 50th game for the London Broncos – during the side’s 62-4 thrashing of Whitehaven – and represented his native Malta on the international stage.
Magrin is only the second player in the current squad to achieve 50 appearances, having just been pipped to the post by Iliess Macani earlier in the season, and, as a London boy who came up through the Broncos scholarship and academy sides, it’s an achievement that means a great deal to him.
“It definitely meant a lot to me to play my 50th. I honestly had times when I never thought I’d even make the first team when I was coming through the academy ranks, so to play 50 games was a momentous occasion for me.
“It feels good to be a London based player who’s managed to come through the system and have a contribution to the first team. It’s massively important to me to be able to play for London.”
Magrin grew up in south London’s Croydon (and his mother and sisters are still there), where he played for the Hurricanes, before signing with the Broncos at the tender age of 15. His dad is in Northolt (conveniently located near Ealing), and says one of the best things about London is that there’s always something to do.
“Apart from relaxing and recovering from tough training sessions and games I like to head into town for a look round or a meal with friends or family. You’re very much spoiled for choice here, and there are always a few options.”
In terms of results and team success, 2016 has been almost a polar opposite season to 2015. The Broncos sit in second position in the Championship, are undefeated at home in the league, and have only suffered three defeats so far. It’s a close knit squad, who all say that their successes stem from the basis that the whole team wants to work hard for each other and succeed as a whole.
“I think it’s important that we retained a good nucleus of the squad from last year, and we’ve had a chance to build together and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” says Magrin.
“I also think that there’s a bigger desire to succeed in all the players and staff this year, and everyone is moving in the same direction. Ealing Trailfinders is a top facility for both training and games. We have a great pitch to train and play on, and an awesome gym that’s been built this year.
“I’ve been at four different facilities since I’ve been at the Broncos, and this is by far and away the best one overall for the club. Everything is based in one place now which makes it so much better logistically and makes it feel like more of a club.”
With rugby league on the rise in London, Magrin says it’s important that more young boys continue to develop through the Broncos’ scholarship and academy systems, and believes London has what it takes to be a competitive side in the Super League in the long run.
“It’s imperative for the club that more and more academy products are able to make the step up to the first team. If we want London to be a sustainable and successful rugby league city, we need kids from London playing for the club. With the academy we have currently – in terms of both talent and the coaching staff – it’s definitely possible.
“Ultimately, it would be great to see rugby league appreciated for the great sport that it is! Everyone that’s come to one of our games for the first time has told me what good family entertainment it is, and it would be great for more and more people to recognise this.
“I’d also like to see a competitive London team in Super League with a good core of London based players.”
In terms of a positive ending to an already successful 2016 season, Magrin says earning a position in the Middle 8s is the top priority.
“Anything less than a top four finish would be a failure this season. We’ve had a really positive start – only losing three games so far – and we have the belief and ability to make the top four.
“Personally, I would like to stay in the top two which would give us more home games in the 8s, and I think this is more than achievable!
“We got a taste of the big stage at the Summer Bash and I’m keen to play in more big matches, it’s what you play the game for.
“I think it’s important that if we do make the 8s that we have the belief that we can genuinely challenge for a Super League place, because we have the squad and staff to do so. That’s the ultimate goal – to be back in the top flight.”