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Tigers cult hero ready for recall

Western Suburbs Magpies fullback Zac Cini has been recalled to the Wests Tigers NRL squad ahead of their must win Round 21 clash against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

The enigmatic outside back had an unforgettable NRL debut back in Round 8 but has played most of the season for the Magpies in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup before the season was suspended following the COVID-19 outbreak across Greater Sydney.

Cini was part of the extended Tigers squad when the NRL competitions and teams relocated to Queensland and his impressive NSW Cup form and attitude have earnt him a recall into coach Michael Maguire’s squad.

While Cini’s performances at fullback have been a large part of the Magpies success, according to coach Ben Gardiner, it’s a position that he wasn’t all too familiar with coming into the season.

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“What a lot of people don’t realise, he hadn’t played a lot of fullback before this year,” Gardiner said.

“He’d played a lot of wing and centre and came into the team not knowing a lot about a really important defensive role.

“Not just in his numbering out in the midfield, but his positioning in the way that he owns the goal line defence, he’s really had to put a lot of work into that.

“He’s one of those players that wants to do it and really wants to be better.”

Tigers’ fullback Daine Laurie has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2021 season with a broken leg forcing Moses Mbye to take his position in the last line of defence. Cini will no doubt be willing and able to make the switch to his preferred position if the opportunity comes available.

After seeing his teammates reaction to his first NRL try, it should come as no surprise that Cini is the kind of player people want to play with.

“Guys like to play with him because he does bring energy and he’s really active in his role,” Gardiner said.

“They just see quality in his game and like the way he carries himself.”

In the NSW Cup, Cini is currently third for running metres (1,966). He also has four linebreaks, 16 offloads, 411 kick return metres and one try.