Hibs youngster shines in new role - and repays Monty's faith after shaky start

Triantis (left) competes with Rangers' Tom Lawrence in Sunday's quarterfinal.Triantis (left) competes with Rangers' Tom Lawrence in Sunday's quarterfinal.
Triantis (left) competes with Rangers' Tom Lawrence in Sunday's quarterfinal.
Manager admits red-carded midfielder 'gave ref a decision to make' with challenge

Having heard for long enough about Nectar Triantis’ versatility, with Nick Montgomery repeatedly dropping in the idea that the Australian “can play as a No. 6”, Hibs fans finally got to see the big lad given a proper run out in central midfield on Sunday night. It’s fair to say he passed the audition.

Triantis, who had looked lost when throw in as a short-term solution to his new team’s central defensive crisis soon after arriving on loan from Sunderland in January, grew into the game as Hibs rallied in search of an equaliser against Rangers at Easter Road. Even after red cards for Jordan Obita and Nathan Moriah-Welsh saw the home side reduced to nine men in a fiery Scottish Cup quarterfinal, the former Central Coast star – he won the A-League with Montgomery – looked relatively at ease.

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With Moriah-Welsh suspended as a result of his straight red, the 20-year-old will surely get a chance to reinforce his standing in the starting XI against Ross County in Dingwall tomorrow night, with Monty noting: "Look, he's really versatile. He can play centre-back, he can play six and if you are a deep-lying six, a defensive midfielder, it's a similar position.

“He's technically very good on the ball. He's still young and he's had success in his relatively short career. But he went six months, really, without playing after he moved to Sunderland, which is a big move for a young player.

“You could see against Rangers, especially in the second half, that he is a player who can really dictate play, and physically he is very good. I've been really happy with Nectar since he came in - and I know he can be better. But every game and every training session is an opportunity for him to improve.”

Asked if he’d been worried about the lasting effects of being thrown into the centre of defence, and the shaky performances that followed, Montgomery said: "Not really. I have full trust in Nectar. The first game he came in, Paul Hanlon fell sick that morning, so I had no option but to throw him in - we only had Will Fish as a centre-back.

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“He came in and a couple of decisions probably went against him, but I know Nectar's character and that doesn't bother him. You can see now that coming into the team, in a game of that magnitude (against Rangers), I thought his performance was really strong. He's getting better every training session and every game and it's good you have players that are versatile - it definitely makes the squad stronger.”

Especially impressive, to many, was Triantis managing to navigate almost the entire 90 minutes – he was replaced late on just to protect him – after picking up an early booking, his manager saying: “That’s something where it doesn’t matter your age, you don’t get caught with the emotion and being on the yellow card early is always a risk for any player. He’s a smart kid, he’s honest, and he made sure of that after that incident.

“We were down to eight outfield players at the end, and I took him off because I didn’t really want to risk him making a late tackle and losing him as well, so it was a tactical substitution because the boys were spent with energy. I think we played 25 minutes with nine men, so it wasn’t easy.”

Montgomery described Moriah-Welsh as “disappointed” in the aftermath of his dismissal for a challenge on John Lundstram, admitting: “When you are as committed as Nathan, sometimes it’s that decision in the heat of the moment. There was maybe a little bit of frustration from the game, from previous decisions, and that’s something you can’t get emotional with.

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“Whether it’s a sending off or not, I can only give my opinion. To go and have a look at the VAR monitor, you can just double check that you’re making the right decision, considering it was right next to where the incident happened, I thought that was the right thing to do.

“But it wasn’t to be. And Nathan accepts that he gave the referee a decision to make. He’s disappointed but he’ll learn from it.”