Luck smiles on Titans fill-in Zillman - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Luck smiles on Titans fill-in Zillman

By Laine Clark 11/09/2010 10:44:10 AM Comments (0)

In the words of Gold Coast coach John Cartwright, William Zillman was "Billy Slater-like" in the Titans' historic 28-16 NRL finals win over the New Zealand Warriors.

But Zillman's appraisal was much more modest: "I just got lucky".

However, it's not the first time Zillman has counted his blessings at the Titans.

It was hard to believe Zillman was the Titans' second-choice fullback during his man-of-the-match, two-try performance at Skilled Park on Friday night.

And Zillman was also pinching himself, after reflecting on how far he had come in just 12 months.

Despite playing just 24 first grade games due to not one but two serious knee injuries, Zillman was snapped up from Canberra last year by the Titans on a four-season deal - reportedly worth close to $1 million.

"They offered me a contract after I had done my knee once, and while I was debating whether to take the contract was when I did it again," Zillman said.

"Obviously in the back of my head I was going 'there goes that offer'.

"But they said 'we still want you'. They are a real special club - I just can't thank them enough for putting their faith in me."

However, Zillman, 24, admitted he was battling to find his feet last year as he recovered from his horror run of two knee reconstructions in as many years.

"The first time I started playing football since both of them (reconstructions) - that was tough getting the confidence back," he said.

"But that is all behind me. I can't complaint about it any more."

Certainly Cartwright didn't have any complaints after Zillman stepped in at the last minute to again fill in for Preston Campbell (hamstring).

"He was man of the match by a long way," Cartwright said.

"He was Billy Slater-like out there."

However, a modest Zillman said: "Billy Slater is one of the guys I look up to, but sometimes it is luck.

"I got lucky out there."

While his "lucky" first half tries were important, Zillman's critical play against the Warriors did not come until the second stanza.

Zillman put his body on the line to dive on a loose ball in the 64th minute, derailing yet another Warriors raid after the visitors had cut the deficit from 24-6 to 24-16.

Momentum quickly changed and a minute later Titans winger Kevin Gordon crashed over for what was the match-winning try.

It sealed the Titans' very first finals victory - and the first by a Gold Coast rugby league team since the Chargers in 1997.

Still Zillman expected to step aside for Campbell when the veteran returns in their next finals clash.

"The team is better with him in there - he is a freak," Zillman said.

Cartwright confirmed as much when asked if the Titans had missed Campbell.

"We always miss Presto mate," Cartwright said.

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