RR: So, Nectarios Triantis - is he any good?
AW: Yes, he is. He’s had an incredible season in the A-League.
And whilst the standard is clearly below the Championship, he’s one of those players that catches the eye. He stands out.
RR: What were your first impressions when you heard the news that Sunderland look set to sign him?
AW: Sad. But entirely unsurprised. I would have loved the Mariners to have kept him for one more season but a move like this was inevitable really.
For him, I’m delighted he’s gone to a big club - this feels like the perfect move. Somewhere he can continue to learn but at the same time hopefully get some minutes.
RR: What do you think of the reported fee - does that represent good business for Central Coast Mariners, or have Sunderland got themselves a bargain?
AW: Weirdly, it’s both. If Nectar was already playing in Europe he’d cost you maybe four times what you paid. But we (the Mariners) are a selling club. It’s our model. We need deals like these just to survive.
I’m hoping we perhaps added a sell-on clause like we did for Garang Kuol at Newcastle, but who knows.
RR: What do you think his ceiling is as a player? How far can he go in the game?
AW: Okay so this is going to seem far-fetched for a somewhat-unproven 20 year old, but I genuinely think he can and will establish himself as a Premier League starter either for Sunderland or for someone else. I predict that he’ll break into the Socceroos next season and then stay there. He could get 100 caps before he finishes.
RR: What has he done this season to garner so much attention?
AW: He’s been the most consistent performer in the league’s most entertaining side. He’s only just 20, yet looks like he’s been playing for years. He’s also looked every bit the modern centre back in a league that doesn’t have that in abundance.
RR: What sort of defender is he?
AW: Think a young John Stones. He’s a big, strong lad with very very tidy feet. He’s totally uncompromising in the tackle, ridiculously confident and he shirks from nobody - including much more experienced players.
His passing range is incredible and he has a calmness bringing the ball out of defence that just shouldn’t be allowed in a bloke that age.
Now, as I’ve said, he’s young - so he will make mistakes and he isn’t the finished article.
I think he could work a little on his positioning and he definitely still has lots to learn, but his potential is off the charts.
RR: Do you think he’s ready to play in a tough league like the Championship?
AW: I do. He’s a unit. His build, his strength and his confidence are impressive.
I can’t see him being overwhelmed by being at such a big club.
I imagine he’ll work very hard to make a mark on the team, the club and the Championship.
RR: Lastly - what would you say to any Sunderland fans who aren’t sure about this signing?
AW: Being honest, this is a step up for him but you’re getting him at exactly the right time; coming off some great performances but still young enough to improve.
The Mackems who appreciate a ball playing centre back are going to love him, but those who like it booted into row Z maybe won’t.
My advice: be patient. Look at the bigger picture, the longer game… this boy is capable of going all the way and becoming a huge fan favourite. Bookmark this article!