21 June 2023

Region Riverina vs Tumut Blues' Zac Masters

| Glenn Pallister
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Rugby league player

Tumut Blues co-captain Zac Masters. Photo: Supplied.

Tumut Blues co-captain/coach Zac Masters is considered one of the best (if not the best) front-rowers in country rugby league, having been selected in multiple NSW Country teams, and playing a prominent role in the game’s development off the field.

Growing up on a property outside Tumut, Zac comes from a long line of local footy legends and started playing rugby league when he was seven years old with Tumut Minor League.

When he was 16, he decided to pursue a pathway in footy and two years later moved to Parramatta to play Under 20s with the Eels. But life in the big smoke was not the right fit for Zac and the country soon called him home. Moving back to Tumut led Zac to link up with the Canberra Raiders, where he spent the next couple of years.

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After finally returning to play with the Blues, they won a premiership in 2019 and Zac has been coaching with Lachlan Bristow since 2021.

When Tumut played Temora on 22 April, Zac notched 100 first-grade games and is widely celebrated as one of the most outstanding players to don the blue jersey in the history of the club.

Recent ankle surgery will most likely see the big fella out for the remainder of the season, but his Blues will be looking to be there on that one special day at season’s end and regain Group 9’s No. 1 spot.

rugby league team celebrates

Zac celebrating with teammates in 2019. Photo: Tumut Blues.

Where are you from and where did you first start playing footy?
Born and bred in Tumut. Started playing footy with Tumut Minor League.

Best footy memory?
The 2019 Group 9 premiership win.

Favourite player as a kid and why?
Billy Slater. I was a Melbourne Storm fan as a kid. Billy was always exciting to watch.

Favourite childhood meal you can remember?
Homemade pizzas on Friday nights after footy training and watching the NRL on TV.

rugby league kid

The Masters family has a long history with the Tumut club and Zac started playing early. Photo: Tumut Blues.

Favourite ground to play on and why?
Twickenham. I grew up watching my local rugby league idols in those great Tumut sides of the early 2000s run around on Twickenham (the Twickenham Rugby League Complex in Tumut, not the one outside London!) and always wanted to be able to do it myself. It’s a ground that creates a great atmosphere as well.

Why should young kids take up rugby league?
Rugby league teaches you so many great values which we all need later in life, such as resilience, teamwork and determination. There’s no greater bond than the bond you have with your rugby league mates.

Do you have a celebrity lookalike?
Greg Crampton nicknamed me Dolph when I was 16, after Dolph Lundgren.

rugby league action

Zac Masters has played more than 100 first-grade games. Photo: Tumut Blues.

What annoys you?
People who talk too much rubbish.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Tough times are where you learn the most about yourself.

On a car trip from the Region to Sydney, who would you NOT want in the passenger seat?
Derek Hay (former teammate and current Gundagai co-coach). Talks too much rubbish.

Any person (dead or alive) you WOULD want in the passenger seat?
Matty Johns. He has great stories and loves his music. That would be entertaining.

Down to your last $20 – what would you spend it on?
The punt.

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