NSW made it three consecutive wins in the under-20s Origin clash at Penrith on Saturday night. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos
Victorious New South Wales Origin under-20s coach Dean Pay has hailed the performance of Blues halfback Mitchell Moses, insisting he "came of age" in a mature display against Queensland on Saturday night that belies his 19 years of age.
While Newcastle flyer Jake Mamo earned the Darren Lockyer Medal as the man of the match, it was the control exuded by Moses that had Pay most excited and confident that the tide at senior Origin level will soon turn in the Blues' favour.
"Before the game I just said to him, 'I want you to play like an Origin player. Just kick into the corners, do all the small things really well'," Pay said of the young Wests Tigers playmaker who is the nephew of Blues great Ben Elias.
"He came of age tonight on what he's been doing already."
While their first grade counterparts have conceded eight straight Series defeats to the Maroons, Saturday night's 30-8 win was the Blues' third straight win over their interstate rivals, a run that begs the question: When will the wheel turn for the senior boys?
"We've got them coming through, so hopefully it's only a matter of time. We've got some good talent, some really good talent," Pay told NRL.com.
NSW scored five tries – three of them to left winger Mamo – and restricted the Maroons to just two. Pay, who played 12 games for the Blues between 1994-98, paid tribute to a cohesive attack and stringent defence that based itself on a camaraderie established within five days.
"At the start of the week, I just said we want to be a tight team by the time we got out there on Saturday night," he said.
"We want to execute what we're doing, we want to complete our sets and I thought we did that pretty well. In these sorts of games it's all about completing and that's what we did."
Mamo received the Darren Lockyer Medal for man of the match, winning his individual battle with the taller and heavier John Folau. The Knights NRL graduate said he was grateful for the opportunities granted to him by his teammates inside him.
"I watched him play a couple of times before. I really wasn't too worried," Mamo said of facing the imposing Folau. "It was just the work of the inside guys like Sione [Mata'utia] and Mitchell Moses, they just put me on the outside of him – kind of made my job easy.
"I didn't expect to win the medal at all. I thought the guys in the middle, like [prop] Jake Trbojevic, they worked real hard. But I'll take it."
Pay said "the sky was the limit" for his lightning-quick winger, who made his debut for the Knights in Round 7 and kept his spot for the Round 8 game against the Bulldogs.
"It's hard to put a gauge on it. He could be anything. He's a great, young boy. He's got a good head on his shoulders," he said.
"He can score a try, that's for sure. And we give him some decent ball there. He took his opportunities, which was great."