- WSL / Cait Miers

Two events down on the 2021 Championship Tour season and Australia's CT future on the men's side was looking to be in safe hands: Rookie Morgan Cibilic had eliminated 2x World Champion John John Florence for the second consecutive time. 

Both wins stunned commentators and fans alike. "It's becoming a bit of a problem," uttered Rabbit anxiously from the commentary booth trying to make sense of it.

Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona, Men's Championship Tour - Round of 16 heat 4
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J.Florence vs. M.Cibilic

The two first met up at the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona where the CT Rookie delivered a shock upset to Florence in the Round of 32. If the odds weren't steep enough, Cibilic broke his toe a couple of days earlier and was limping as he made his way into the competitor's area before his heat. 

NARRABEEN, AUS - APRIL 19: Morgan Cibilic of Australia surfing in Heat 4 of Round 4 of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona on April 19, 2021 in Narrabeen, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images) It was turns like this from Morgan Cibilic which saw him once again prove the doubters wrong at Narrabeen - WSL / Matt Dunbar

  When they met up again a week later at the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic, it was expected that Florence would shut down the rookie's fairytale run. 

However, the Aussie had other ideas. Cibilic blasted some of the biggest turns of the event utilising his whiplash backside fin wafts to stun the surfer from Hawaii. 

With no expectations on his shoulders whatsoever, Cibilic was pushing his turns a touch harder with every exchange. The Australian's strength was the speed at which he came off the lip as he zipped in and accelerated out of his turns. 

Florence tried to answer back at every exchange but no matter what he threw at the rookie he couldn't make ground. The Australian pounced on anything that moved to apply more and more pressure on the Hawaiian as he utilised his low centre of gravity cracking the lip like a sledgehammer and freeing the fins with lethal intent.  

NARRABEEN, AUS - APRIL 17: Two-time WSL Champion John John Florence of Hawaii surfing in Heat 2 of Round 1 of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona on April 17, 2021 in Narrabeen, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty I John John Florence was defeated by Rookie Cibilic at Narrabeen, making it two from two for the underdog - WSL / Matt Dunbar

John John Florence found out the hard way that to beat Cibilic he needed to pull deep into his bag of tricks and deliver a single game-changer manoeuvre the Sydney crowd had come expecting to see. 

Instead Morgan the giant killer downed Florence for the second consecutive time in as many weeks. The Merewether rookie proved his performance in Newcastle was no fluke and was suddenly the name on everyone's lips.

"It was nice to get some waves that stood up for me as my last few heats weren't that great," said Cibilic after his heat against Florence. "It feels good to know I could back up my result at Newcastle. I know I have it in me."

"But, it definitely feels good to have two wins over someone like him. I know he's so good in big waves so I'd love to match up with him in West Australia and see if I can go again."

NARRABEEN, AUS - APRIL 18: Two-time WSL Champion John John Florence of Hawaii in Heat 7 of Round 3 of the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona on April 18, 2021 in Narrabeen, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images) John John Florence still put on quite a show at Narrabeen - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Not many rookies have burst onto the Championship Tour with the same kind of force as Morgan Cibilic did during the Australian leg of the 2021 World Championship Tour. His performance at Narrabeen rightly put the world on notice.

He would go on to qualify for the World Title showdown at Trestles and finish his rookie year ranked No. 5 in the world. Morgs set the blueprint for what to bring to the CT in your rookie year and will likely never be underestimated ever again.

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