Sport Cini delivers goods in memorable NRL debut
Maguire not fazed by heat on Tigers future
Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire has sidestepped questions about his future at the club, refusing to add fuel to the fire ahead of Sunday's NRL game.After one win from the opening seven rounds of the NRL season, the heat is on the premiership-winning coach to get the best out of the inconsistent side.
Zac Cini realised a lifelong dream of debuting for Wests Tigers in the NRL, but still reckons his mates had a better Sunday at WIN Stadium.
"You could hear them, definitely," Cini said.
"I got about 20 tickets for family and all my mates just organised a bus.
"I think there was about 50 of them that jumped on the bus and sat in that corner."
"I think they had a better day than me"
Cini's red mullet and his busload of mates was the sideshow of the Tigers' crucial 16-8 win over St George Illawarra on Sunday.
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His debut didn't capture the same headlines as Michael Maguire's crucial win as coach, just a week after the knives were out for him.
And it probably won't rate as important as Adam Doueihi's best game in the No.6 jersey, after he put three players through holes for linebreaks and kicked for another try.
But it was still worth celebrating.
Not least of which for Cini being denied his maiden try right in front of his mates in the southern stand just after halftime by the bunker, only to cross again moments later.
That four-pointer gave the Tigers a lead they wouldn't relinquish, setting off shirtless celebrations in the stands in scenes more accustomed to the English Premier League.
"When I put it down (the first time) I was shocked. But then I just had to think the chance will come again," Cini said.
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"It is a dream just to play footy but to score on debut with my mates in that corner (made it extra special).
"The support they gave was awesome and made it 10-times better."
A Penrith junior who played with Spencer Leniu growing up, Cini was hooked by the Tigers as a five-year watching Benji Marshall's dazzling 2005 season.
He went unsigned after being part of the Panthers champion under-18s side in 2018, and was picked up by the Tigers for under-20s the next year.
It earned him the right to train alongside Marshall and fellow childhood hero Robbie Farah, before the former hooker presented him with his jersey on Sunday.
"I loved Benji in 2005 and I used to sit in the lounge room watching him on TV," Cini said.
"When he played the grand final I was five and I used to go out the front and try to practise the Benji step.
"(When) the Tigers came up with an offer I was stoked, I just jumped on it straight away."
Fifita Verdict Sparks Outrage As The Titans Star Cops Heavy Ban For Doueihi Tackle .
The Titans star will miss two matches after he failed in his bid to have his high-tackle charge downgraded at the NRL judiciary. Fifita was sin-binned and placed on report for a high shot on Wests Tigers player Adam Doueihi in the 79th minute of Saturday’s Round 9 clash at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Doueihi wrongfooted the Titans behemoth, who hung his right arm out and collected the Tigers five-eighth in the head with an open palm.