Titans hopeful urged to be patient
He was whisked away from under his nose once before but Titans coach Neil Henry insists he has big plans for Kierran Moseley after his sparkling debut for the club at the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines.
Although he will represent the Indigenous All Stars team next Friday Moseley has been named in the Titans' squad for Saturday night's trial against the Warriors in Toowoomba where he is expected to play 20 minutes in the No.9 position.
Recruited from Penrith after two years in the Panthers' lower grades, Moseley actually came to the attention of scouts while at school in Townsville but was never offered an opportunity by the Cowboys, for whom Henry was head coach at the time.
But after his contribution in an otherwise disappointing Nines campaign for the Titans, Henry said the 20-year-old is on course to add to his solitary NRL game in Round 25 last season throughout 2015.
"He wants to play NRL, he wants to play first grade and be the No.1 hooker and for a kid that is straight out of 20s that's great," Henry told NRL.com.
"It's small steps for him and he's got a way to go to be a regular NRL player but he's certainly exciting and making the most of his opportunity.
"He was pretty sharp and I like what I see about him. There's no doubt he's very creative with his vision and he runs well out of dummy-half. Where you get found out a little bit is the defensive work rate you've got in the middle and that's an area he knows he needs to work on."
When Moseley was selected to play for the Queensland under-18s in 2012 he shared the field with the likes of Anthony Milford, Lloyd Perrett and Kodi Nikorima and a squad that was almost entirely contracted to NRL clubs.
Except for Moseley.
"I wanted to stay in Townsville but when there wasn't anything there I sat down with 'Belly' (former Cowboys coach Grant Bell with whom he lived with for three years while attending Kirwan High School) and said that this was pretty much my last opportunity and roll of the dice," said of his 2012 season.
"I ended up making the Queensland under-18s that year and the majority of the boys who were in that were all contracted with clubs and playing SG Ball. I remember Milford was in that team and I was pretty much the only player who didn't have a contract at that time.
"Because it was in Sydney I ended up staying the next day and had a look at the Penrith facilities and they were pretty keen to try and get me down there so they showed a bit of faith in me and that's what drove me to go down there.
"Considering that with the Cowboys, I was there and in their own backyard, and they didn't even offer me anything, that also drove me to go down there."
Henry's miss three years ago now appears set to pay dividends with the Titans coach praising Penrith's mentoring of Moseley with experience in the NSW Cup last season where he was apprenticed to veteran hooker Kevin Kingston.
Getting a taste of the NRL late last year has given Moseley even greater motivation to push for a place in Henry's team for Round 1 but the coach tempered his enthusiasm with the reality of life as a starting No.9.
The best hookers in the game all took a number of years of first grade to reach the pinnacle of their position and Henry says Moseley is looking at a similar career trajectory.
"It's a tough position. You look at Jake Friend and those guys, they take a while. Issac Luke took a while to develop and if you can get an 80-minute hooker they take on a tremendous workload," Henry said.
"They need to be physical because there's nowhere to hide when you're in the middle of the field and you get a fair bit of defensive work in there. It's a high energy game too, you have to get into dummy half all the time and the execution of your passing needs to be there and if you've got a bit of a kicking game it's a point of difference.
"He could jump and put his hand up and play a few games this year, and I hope he does. He's certainly strong enough to do that but the week-in, week-out grind is pretty tough so if he was able to get half a dozen games this year I think that's a progression moving forward for him."