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This will sound funny, but I think Mitchell Moses will find State of Origin easier than NRL level. He’s playing with so many elite players, once he calls a set or once he calls a play all the best players fall into position or their shape. He doesn’t have to be barking at them.
This has been a long time coming and I’m really proud he’s getting his shot in NSW colours. From the outside looking in or even the inside looking out, Mitchell seems to be a really polarising figure. But the man I’ve got to know over the past couple of years working with him at Parramatta is different to the perception.
I find him a great young fella. He loves his footy and he’s got a real hardened edge and competitive streak in him which brings out frustration. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing, he just loves to compete.
We can talk about famous footballing pedigrees, but he was bred to play NRL and Origin. I always have a giggle when I talk to him about Ben Elias and he calls him “Uncle Benny”. I don’t know why, but it always brings a smile to my face.
I was a fan of his even before I started working with him. I could see the traits he has – the skill, vision, kicking game and the way he reads how a game will unfold. I could see he had all of those attributes to be a topline No.7.
The challenge for him has been to bring all those assets together week in, week out. I think he’s guilty of some weeks having a dynamite kicking game, then the next week his running game is on fire and his kicking game suffers.
Mitchell Moses at the NSW captain’s run before game three. Credit:NRL Photos
But right now I think he’s got close to the best kicking game in the NRL. He’s got such a big boot and great timing on the ball. It’s such a big part of Origin and it’s a trait that will help him on Wednesday night.
The biggest hurdle for Mitchell has been the mental side of the game; how to handle an error, how to handle pressure, how to swing back momentum. He is learning to stay cool and stay on script when those things go against him.
How will he play coming into a team chasing an Origin clean sweep? Well, it’s important Mitchell puts his mark on the team and not to play like Nathan Cleary, and for Jack Wighton not to play like Jarome Luai. They’ve got to play to their strengths.
We know NSW has the best outside backs, probably in their history. He’s got to keep asking himself, “how do I get them the ball? When do I get them the ball?”. It comes down to feel. He’s got to feel the speed of the play-the-ball, feel the momentum, feel when the time is right to strike. That’s the big challenge in representative footy.
I’m really proud to work with him and see his development and dedication to his craft. I’m excited to watch him play and I know he’ll play well. I wish him all the best.
I know it’s tough for NRL players with some away from their families, but a lot of people in the community are on their knees – financially and emotionally. We’re in really tough and strange times, which seems to be changing every day. But we’ve got to say a huge thank you to the NRL for their swift organisation in setting up the bubble in south-east Queensland. They have done an incredible job.
There’s been a few dramas over the past couple of weeks with players breaking COVID-19 protocols, but what they have to understand is the relief they can provide people. Coming to the end of the week when people are in isolation and lockdown, one thing they look forward to is watching their favourite team and watching their favourite players.
The NRL players can deliver so much enjoyment and a distraction from the extreme problems people are going through. Hang in there and stay strong because we’ll all come through this pandemic. I don’t know when, but I do know the NRL can give people hope.
I’ve seen mates who have cafes, pubs, restaurants, gyms – it has been horrendous for them. The NRL is as good an escape as any at the moment.
Walker’s on fire
It was a privilege to watch Cody Walker live for the Rabbitohs against the Cowboys in Newcastle last week. It was a true masterclass.
Indigenous players have a flair and instinct, an ability to create which you cannot coach. The biggest compliment I can give to Cody is he’s the closest player I’ve seen to Cliff Lyons, who without doubt was a genius.
Cody Walker is in rare form for the Rabbitohs.Credit:Getty
I think Cody’s a good example for young players. He didn’t debut until he was 26. I’m not sure whether it was maturity, he got lost on his way, dedication or injury. Sometimes it can be a combination of all those factors.
But for young players, just because you’re not in the junior reps or pathways system or just because you’re not playing NRL at 20 or 21, it doesn’t matter. Players develop differently. If you’ve got some talent, a dream and are prepared to work extremely hard, you’re never too old.
I can’t wait to watch him for the rest of the season with his sidekicks Latrell Mitchell and Alex Johnston.
Joey’s tip: NSW by 14
First try-scorer: Latrell Mitchell
Man of the match: Brian To’o
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