THE Wests Tigers are getting a good man.
Newly-appointed coach Michael Maguire has a reputation as a hard taskmaster, but his compassionate side is just as fierce.
Nine-year-old South Sydney fan Anthony Kambouroglou has been battling the debilitating Perthes disease for the past 14 months, during which time he has been wheelchair-bound.
The rare disease affects the hip and femur of children.
Through his school principal, who knows Maguire’s wife, Anthony was encouraged to write the former Rabbitohs coach a letter.
On Monday, two weeks after the letter was sent, a generous package landed on his doorstep as well as a handwritten note.
“He was over the moon,” Anthony’s dad George told foxsports.com.au.
“There was toothbrushes, a flag, the winter jacket, the jersey, a shirt, so much stuff.”
The Kambouroglou family are big supporters of South Sydney, with father George also a sponsor of the club.
He said Anthony’s letter was written to thank Maguire for everything he had done for the Rabbitohs, also mentioning that he had read his book, A Year to Remember, which was released following their 2014 premiership.
In more good news for Anthony, he has recently been able to start learning to walk again.
“[Being stuck in a wheelchair] is hard for an active kid,” George said.
“He’s been able to but weight bearing back on his leg. He’s been in a wheelchair for 14 months but now he’s on crutches. He’s borderline being able to walk again. He’s learning to walk again now. We’re aiming to be completely out of a chair within the next four to five weeks depending on his physiotherapy.”
Maguire is well-known for his impressive community and charity work.
After being sacked from the Rabbitohs at the end of 2017, Maguire boarded a plane to Africa for a 10-day trip with aid agency Caritas Australia, visiting poverty stricken communities and orphanages.
“I had a great six years at Souths but now it’s time to move forward,” he told foxsports.com.au at the time.
“I had the opportunity to go to Africa for the first time in my life and meet people who had gone from nothing to actually building their lives.
“The strength and resilience of the poor has taught me so much.
“To go overseas and see the things I’ve seen, it was quite amazing to think how lucky we can be and what we can do for people who aren’t as fortunate to have the things we have.
“There were people living in complete poverty — no water, no food, no homes — who now have these all because of the work of Caritas.”
After winning the 2014 NRL premiership, he spent the off-season volunteering to coach under privileged rugby league players in PNG.