Brothers Embrace New Panthers/Tigers Rivalry
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, the mid-season Tigers recruit, has admitted that it was a difficult decision to leave the Penrith Panthers, but the chance to further his career is what made it too good an offer to refuse.
Watene-Zelezniak made his debut in Round 6 of the NRL Telstra Premiership beside his brother Dallin, and, after Peta Hiku and Waqa Blake returned from a suspension imposed by the club, the 25-year old player slipped down the pecking order, even though he had performed strongly against the Rabbitohs. Sports betting NZ fans and those across the globe had been keeping a close eye on Watene-Zelezniak, and the announcement of his move may have caught some by surprise.
A Special Moment for the Brothers
There is no denying that Watene-Zelezniak’s time with the Panthers had been incredibly special, and in April the brothers made an on field play that will always be remembered. Malakai set up Dallin on the left edge for a 4-pointer in the presence of more than 100 family and friends who saw fit to attend the clash that took place at Pepper Stadium.
The junior from St Clair stated that this decision to leave the club he’d been a member of since 2009 was easier to make after he had managed to achieve his goal: playing alongside his brother at the top level. He went on to say that this moment would remain the highlight of his career, and that he did not believe anything would ever be able to top that feeling.
Something to Remember Fondly Forever
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak has said that he would never forget the feeling of heading onto the field with his brother. He spoke of the closeness between the two of them, and that they often shared information about not only their careers, but their personal lives as well, and that the opportunity of playing for the Tigers was no exception.
Malakai further said that everyone at Penrith was pleased for him, thanks to the fact that they all understood what a magnificent opportunity it was, and how much his career would be furthered if he took it.
Malakai Has Always Admired His Brother
Malakai also admitted that when he witnessed his brother’s transition into the 1st grade, and then onto the global stage at a much younger age, he was doubtful about his own abilities, even though he was 4 years older.
Ivan Cleary, coach for the Wests Tigers, put the utility into the starter side for 2 weeks after his move, once again against the Rabbitohs, in a move which showed total confidence in the new signing.
Malakai said that attempting to push for his debut over the years had him suffering a huge amount of doubt, but the support of his brother, wife, and parents was what ensured that he was able to keep his eye on the goal.
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak said that he had had a conversation with Anthony Griffin, coach for the Penrith Panthers, and that Griffin was in support of the move as well. He elaborated on their relationship, saying that they got along very well, and that Griffin was the reason Watene-Zelezniak’s game had improved as much as it has.
Malakai said that the move had resulted in the humorous situation of his brother and he checking their phones as soon as the announcement had been made in order to see which round of play would see them facing off.