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Parramatta Eels halfback Mitchell Moses.

Were it not for Des Hasler, Mitch Moses could easily be in blue and white rather than blue and gold.

"I don't care," Moses says.

"It's probably the best thing that's happened to me, not going there and then coming here. It's good that that happened."

What happened was the whole "rugby league is a business" cliché laid bare.

Among the protracted contract negotiations of the Wests Tigers' once-fabled "Big Four" in early 2017, the Bulldogs came in large for James Tedesco, Aaron Woods and their great mate Moses.

Then-chairman Ray Dib maintained all three were Belmore-bound until Hasler had second thoughts on Moses, his defence understood to be the Mad Scientist's sticking point.

Tedesco tried to convince Hasler otherwise and, when he couldn't, took up his other option across town.

"It doesn't matter," Moses says when recalling the blunt Bulldogs snub. "I'm loving it here at the moment."

Tedesco will say the same as the game's best player at the Roosters, ditto Hasler en route to Dally M Coach of the Year honours at Manly.

Meanwhile Moses, with 24 try assists (first in the NRL), 163 points (fourth) and 386 kick metres a game (first), is in career-best touch.

Arthur's discipline reaping rewards for Moses

To be fair the Bulldogs are on the way up too, heading into Thursday's local derby with five wins from their last seven outings.

And where Hasler's brushing landed Moses in the Eels No.7 jersey, Brad Arthur's backing has seen him own it.

"That's a big thing that Brad's helped me out with," Moses says.

"He's shown a lot of confidence in me. I'm the halfback of the team and he wants me to take control of the team.

"Seeing him have confidence in me gives me confidence to go out on the field and do it. He's been massive for me this year and my development."

Last October, Arthur gave it to Moses straight. He was free to leave Parramatta if he wanted, if that famous blue and gold No.7 wasn't going to fit.

Peter Sterling, he of the four-title Midas touch and an apparent curse on that same jumper, has snipered the 24-year-old more than once too.

Nothing personal. Just one of the game's most respected analysts calling it as he sees it.

Which is why Moses now calls Sterling "whenever I'm struggling and need to ask him for some tips".

Sterling described a pre-season meeting with Moses and his rookie halves partner Dylan Brown frankly last week.

"Mitch Moses basically said that he had to pull his head in to some degree," Sterling told Wide World of Sports.

Eels v Bulldogs - Round 23

"I won't say lairise, but he was overconfident and that had to be reined back in."

Moses won't cop mention of the Sterling curse. Or joining Tim Smith, Chris Sandow, Kieran Foran and John Simon among 30 others to have been chewed up and spat out since the Eels icon retired.

But Moses has copped the tip from Parramatta's greatest, and still does.

"Whenever I see him and I give him a call every now and then if I'm struggling and need to ask him for some tips.

"He's pretty open to that and he's let me know at the start of the year that whenever I need to chat, he's happy to do it so I had a chat with him a couple of weeks ago.

"He's been good for me. He's one of the best halfbacks to play the game.

"Whatever we chat about, that's strictly between me and Sterlo, and the club really. I don't feel there's a need to let everyone know what's happening.

"But anywhere he can give me tips on how to play footy. I'm going to listen and I'm going to try it in the game."

Moses has been at this first grade caper for six years now, with 126 games under his belt.

It's easy to forget he's still just 24. He's come through those very public contract negotiations, a very messy Tigers exit, a superb 2017 finals run and Lebanese World Cup campaign followed by last year's wooden spoon and career crossroads.

"Out the other side yet?"

"Jeez I hope so ... far out."

Lessons appear to have been learned.

Told he could take his services elsewhere, Moses took to pre-season training early in response, cancelling a boys trip to the US to see Connor McGregor fight.

Having started 2019 in promising form, a three-year Eels extension was signed in June, Moses keeping his cards close publicly throughout negotiations.

"Coming through that Tigers system where probably 80 per cent of the team was under 24, under 25, coming through that system, we had a lot of good times and I had a lot of close mates there that I still talk to today," Moses says.

"I learnt a lot of harsh lessons there [with] what we were going through at the start of my career.

Moses takes control

"Even last year, I learnt a lot of hard lessons here at Parra as well. Hopefully I'm out the other side.

"Coming off the year I had last year, I had no leg to stand on at all to be able to go away on those kind of trips and have the off-season that sometimes you wish you can have.

"I had to do something. I was under the pump here and I wanted to prove to the club, no one else, but prove to the club that I want to be here.

"It's not that I'm just coming here and collecting my pay and dogging it on the field.

"I wanted to come here and work hard and show the club that I want to be the 7 and I want to take control of the team."

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