Fill-in Bulldogs five-eighth Moses Mbye is full of confidence but knows he'll need to be at his best against long-time idol Johnathan Thurston. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Confidence is something that Bulldogs whiz-kid Moses Mbye certainly isn't short of.
While he is prepared to lead players of world class calibre around the paddock in James Graham and Michael Ennis, there will be only one man that is capable of making him nervous, or perhaps even starstruck, and that is his opposite number this weekend: Cowboys captain Johnathan Thurston.
While Mbye isn't afraid to tell the senior Bulldogs players what to do, claiming that it is "part of my job", the 20-year-old couldn't say the same about his childhood idol Thurston.
"I suppose I don't have to respect him too much [on the field]," Mbye laughed to NRL.com. "I have a lot of respect for Johnathan Thurston though. He is the best player in the game and I'm sure I'll be able to learn a bit about him this week.
"It is a childhood dream of mine, being a Queenslander as well, that I'm playing him. Johnathan Thurston will always be my role model... so I have to keep my feet on the ground."
With usual Bulldogs five-eighth Josh Reynolds on the sidelines for another week thanks to a suspension racked up in Origin III, Mbye plans on taking this opportunity with both hands while also giving plenty of credit to his teammates.
"Some of them are the best players in the world and they understand the game and they understand what I'm trying to do out there so it makes my job a lot easier," Mbye said.
"There aren't any selfish players in our team and we're all willing to play for one another. They have faith in me to do my job."
While a foot injury kept him from making the most of Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson's absence over the Origin period, Mbye has bounced back faster than expected and has praised coach Des Hasler for believing in him to do a job on Saturday night.
Mbye's halves partner Hodkinson, much like his coach, is also happy to have the Noosa Pirates junior in the team as they look to take down a Cowboys outfit fresh off their first away win of the season.
"We have had plenty of time to work together in pre-season as well so we were mixing it up there. He's a fine young player and I know he's looking forward to getting out there," Hodkinson told NRL.com.
"He is a very confident kid and a very mature young bloke and he has a big future."