I'm ready for Origin: Moylan
Origin I is still over 70 days away, but Panthers fullback Matt Moylan has declared himself "ready" for Origin football after producing a five-star performance in his side's 40-0 shutout of the Titans on Saturday.
The Penrith fullback livened up Bathurst's bodest crowd of 6,240 by setting up three tries, three line breaks, and kicking four goals in a man-of-the-match effort that will have surely caught the eye of NSW coach Laurie Daley.
"I feel that I'm ready for it," Moylan told reporters after the game. "I've just got to worry about playing consistent footy for Penrith and let the rest of it take care of itself."
The 23-year-old also contributed 141 metres and pulled off a try-saving tackle on a flying Josh Hoffman as he continues to surprise almost everyone in his rise to NRL stardom – everyone except his own coach.
"Nah, it doesn't surprise me. You want all the boys to get better. Matty's still pretty young," Panthers mentor Ivan Cleary said after the win.
Moylan could have already been classified a Kangaroo, but didn't play a game for Australia despite being selected in Tim Sheens' squad for last year's Four Nations. But Cleary believes Moylan's omissions at international have been a factor in his strong start to the season.
"The Four Nations experience was good for him, almost [more so] in that he didn't get a game. If he had of got a game, he might've come back and felt pretty good about himself," Cleary said.
"But he came back and I think that lit a fire a little bit under him. He's always trying to get better to his credit. He's a key man in our operation and played well again today."
Asked whether Moylan was ready for Origin football, Cleary said: "It's a good question. I'll tell you one thing about Matty – any level that he's gone to, he's gone up with the level. I wouldn't say he's not [ready]."
Panthers skipper Peter Wallace, who played four games for NSW between 2008 and 2009, praised Moylan's running game on Saturday before also declaring his teammate ready for the step-up into the interstate arena.
"He gives us another point of attack. Everyone knows how good he is when he's out the back with shape and all that. I thought today he took the line on well, a couple of line breaks there, [and he] set up Deano on a nice pass. It was just another side of his game today, but he keeps improving every week," Wallace said.
Asked if Moylan was read for State of Origin, Wallace said: "I think so. Every challenge that's been put in front of him, he's handled. City Country I thought he was great last year. I think he can handle the step up for sure."
Moylan's try-saving tackle on Hoffman would have pleased Daley, who recently went on a promotional trip to Dubbo with the Origin hopeful and instructed him to work on his defensive plays at the back.
"We've spoken about stuff that he wants me to work on during the year if I want to be a real chance of playing Origin. I've just got to take that on board and do my best," Moylan said. "A lot of it was getting in and trying to save tries - just being that last line of defence and getting in there and stopping tries."