Moylan confident of Nines return
Penrith Panthers livewire Matt Moylan is hoping to play at the Auckland Nines, in what would be his first foray back in the game since severely injuring ankle ligaments in May, 2015.
Though Moylan has signalled his desire to play across the ditch in February, it would be a move Panthers coach Anthony Griffin is directly opposed to as he begins to put his squad together for the annual pre-season tournament.
"It's obviously a great event for the game, and we're going to try and take our best team but we need to bear in mind that there's maybe four or five games of pretty fast and intense football inside two days," Griffin told the Panthers' club website last week.
"We need to be careful not to put players in risk before the start of the year but also respect the tournament by taking our strongest team. It's a bit of a balancing act.
"But if someone is fit enough, and what I mean by that is if they have done the whole pre-season and are ready to play, then we don't see them being a big risk of injury."
The severity of Moylan's injury meant he didn't participate in running sessions several weeks after pre-season begun in November.
Having completed full training for the past five weeks, Moylan can hardly contain his excitement over the prospect of playing at the Nines.
"I just want to get out there and play some footy. I'm massively keen, I want to play in the Nines but whether or not I will be is another story," Moylan told NRL.com.
"Because it's the first game of footy for the year I just want to head over there and have a run. Obviously 'Hook' (coach Anthony Griffin) has the final say in that so all I can say is I want to play.
"I played in the first tournament and it's just a fun weekend to be a part of so if the opportunity comes I'll be stoked."
With the Panthers' trial against the Bulldogs on February 13th a more realistic target for the 24-year-old, Moylan remains mindful of managing his ankle for the remainder of his career.
"At the start [of pre-season] it was obviously frustrating because when I was trying to run it was quite painful and I couldn't do some stuff but being able to do everything now it's feeling fine," Moylan said.
"I just have to keep managing it and making sure I'm staying on top of it so it remains sweet. I don't want to be missing any more games because of it, so it comes down to prehab and physio and basic stuff like icing it."
Moylan also nominated 20-year-old local junior Moses Leota as one player to watch in 2016, among the other usual suspects.
"It'll be good to see Moses get a crack," Moylan said. "He's a young front-rower who has had a good pre-season. He's looking fit and ready to go so if ends up getting a run he'll take the opportunity with both hands.
"It'll also be awesome to see how Te Maire Martin goes in the trials too, if he goes well who knows what will happen from there."