NECTAR TRIANTIS has paid tribute to Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray for developing him to the point where he was capable of making a winning league debut in Saturday’s 3-1 success over Birmingham City.

Triantis was expecting to be on the bench at the Stadium of Light, but was promoted to the starting line-up when Dennis Cirkin suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury during the pre-match warm-up.

The 20-year-old’s only previous Sunderland start had come in the first round of the Carabao Cup, but despite having to play alongside another defensive debutant, Jenson Seelt, the Australian played a pivotal role in his side’s victory, defending stoutly while also having a major hand in the Black Cats’ crucial second goal.

“It was short notice, but I couldn’t be unhappy with that,” said Triantis, who joined Sunderland from Aussie side Central Coast Mariners in June. “It’s the best calling you can get, to start, and it was a good feeling.

“You have to give praise back to the manager for giving me the belief and backing to go on and start. I just try to repay him as much as I can.”

While Triantis was all set to start the game on the substitutes’ bench, the youngster insists he was not too fazed when he got the call to step into the starting XI.

“You always have to be ready as a professional,” he said. “Even if you are on the bench, you have to have that mentality you are going to come on or something is going to happen, which it did unfortunately. I guess it was fortunate for me, and I was ready.”


With Luke O’Nien and Dan Ballard unavailable because of selection, Trai Hume was forced to play out of position at the weekend, slotting in at left-back, with Niall Huggins switching flanks to the right of the back four.

However, last week’s work on the training ground clearly paid off, with every member of Sunderland’s makeshift back four slotting seamlessly into their new roles.

“I’ve been training with the rest of the lads for six months now, so we all have that understanding through training,” said Triantis. “You are used to playing with them every single day, so I felt comfortable out there.”