Bittersweet win for Momirovski after family misses debut

Young centre Paul Momirovski experienced an emotional Roosters farewell on Saturday night, scoring a try in a preliminary final win to help his team to a grand final while also knowing the game would be his last in red, white and blue.

Adding to the emotion of the night, Momirovski's family were on hand to witness his big moment in just his second NRL game and he was seen embracing them after full-time.

It was the first time they had seen him play live because they were holidaying in Europe when he was called up to make his Telstra Premiership debut against the Titans in round 18.

Speaking after the win over Souths, Momirovski was grateful to have been told early in the week by coach Trent Robinson and captain Boyd Cordner that he would be playing so was able to ensure his family were on hand. He said it was one of the best phone calls he'd ever made.

"Yeah, it was awesome to be able to tell my family," he said.

"My family actually weren't at my debut so for them to be able to come tonight and see that in real life, that was special.

"They had a few months in Europe through summer, so they missed my debut. But it was awesome for them to come and see this."

Momirovski thought he could be playing in the preliminary final since Latrell Mitchell got the bad news at the judiciary that he had failed to overcome a crusher tackle ban.

"I found out a few days ago, Tuesday I think it was. I've been preparing since two weeks ago. Obviously Latrell was suspended, two weeks ago now. I've just been preparing the whole time," he added.

Momirovski now has two tries in two NRL games but the second was particularly memorable given the significance of the occasion – and the fact it came with a nervous wait while the Referees' Bunker adjudicated on whether Daniel Tupou had knocked on in the lead-up.

"At first it was hard – I was waiting for that green light!" he laughed.

"You nearly see some of them go and there's just a little, tiny, touch and they call it back. I was just waiting for that green light, and it was like, 'OK, I hope we win now.' It was awesome. I was just trying to stay internally calm."

With Mitchell returning for the grand final, the Wests Tigers-bound centre has realistically played his last game for the club he has called home since he was 16.

"Yeah, it is sad. This club's really made me the man I am," he said.

"All the coaching staff, it's been the same staff here for the last five years I've been here. I'm forever grateful for what they've done for me and my career."

However the former Souths junior rejected the idea his name could be added to the 'Book of Feuds' after ending the season of the club where he first started making a name for himself.

"I only played junior reps there. I didn't end up being in their under-20s squad, I was a bit young for that," he said.

"So my first full-time roles were at the Roosters. It was sad to leave Souths then, it's like getting a new job but it was one of the best decisions I've made in my life. Friends, development, and the man I am today is greatly to do with what's happened here and how they've coached us."

His move to Bondi back then meant he joined the club at the same time and at the same age as the man whose spot he kept warm for the night.

"Latrell's been good. Me and him, we started here the same year and we've been good friends since," he said.

"We've been through the whole way together here, so anything Latrell says I can take on board. We have that good relationship with each other. He gave me the confidence to play this game. He's been awesome."

Momirovski's mature performance in just his second game drew strong praise from teammate Luke Keary.

"It couldn't have happened to a better bloke, he's the nicest kid in the world," Keary said.

"He works that hard, doesn't whinge that he's in reserve grade or anything like that. He got his shot earlier in the year after being 18th man for 12 weeks. It speaks to how much Robbo [coach Trent Robinson] trusts him.

"To do that in your second game against an Origin centre, best attacking team in the comp, I'm that proud of him, I'm stoked for him."

 

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