It is March 1991. South Sydney is taking on Penrith at the foot of the mountains. The Rabbitohs’ young winger, Nick Zisti, is about to have a debut in the top grade which he’s going to remember - and feel - for a long time.
The former Souths, Dragons, Sharks, Hunter Mariners, Bradford and Italy rugby player was kind enough to share his footy experiences for the latest instalment of Inside Sport’s Dead In Goal podcast. We caught up with him at his brilliant restaurant KHING THAI, located near the corner of Anzac Parade and Doncaster Ave, Kensington in Sydney.
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“I remember one of the under-21s players didn’t turn up to training on the Saturday morning. So then I got shifted into the centres in 21s,” Zisti remembers. “I saw a lot more ball that day and had a pretty good game. I even got called to sit on the bench for Reserve Grade; you know how they used to do that on game days?
“I sat through the whole Reserve Grade game but didn’t get on. So anyway, I started getting unready, taking my strapping off, getting ready for the shower, and then the Reserve Grade coach says to me, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘Having a shower.’ And he said, ‘You’re on the bench for First Grade.’ I said ‘What?’ I couldn’t believe it.
“During the game, I remember sitting on the bench next to Tricky Trindall … incredibly nervous. I remember geeing myself and him up. I said to Tricky, ‘If I get on, I’m going to just try and take Mark Geyer out.’ I don’t how I was going to do that from the wing! Tricky said, ‘You’re an idiot.’
“With about 20 minutes to go I got on, had a couple of good runs from dummy-half. I think I made a break, had Brandy to beat, went to step off the right leg and collapsed and did my ACL! That was my biggest memory of the day. Out for a whole year.”