He’s the youngest captain in the NRL but new Penrith skipper Matt Moylan insists he’s ready to lead the Panthers back into the finals.
The season hasn’t even begun but Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has made the first selection gamble of his three-month tenure, appointing Moylan ahead of experienced duo Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward.
At 24 years of age, Moylan is three months younger than new Wests Tigers captain Aaron Woods.
The City Origin fullback admitted he was shocked by the decision – announced by Griffin on Wednesday – but is ready to embrace the role.
“With the senior players we’ve got here and with (Wallace), (Soward), guys like that that have done the job before, it was a bit of a surprise,” Moylan said.
“But I’m ready for the challenge. It’ll help me going forward as a footy player.”
The local product, who has previously been compared to Brisbane great Darren Lockyer, is seemingly destined to shift to five-eighth at some stage in his career but the Panthers currently have an experienced halves pairing in Wallace and Soward.
Griffin, who said he was most impressed with Moylan’s composure during the off-season, was non-committal on his captain’s best position.
“He’ll play where it’s best for the team. That’s always been the case whether it’s him or anyone else,” Griffin said.
“If there was a game on this weekend, I’d give him half a game at fullback and half a game at five-eighth.”
Asked where he would start, Griffin said: “He’s the captain, he can decide.”
Moylan, who will be in cotton wool during the Auckland Nines, was also reluctant to make a call on his best position for their season-opener against Canberra.
“I’m not too fussed at the moment. I’ve been doing a bit of work at both positions throughout the pre-season. As `Hook’ said, wherever’s best for the team, I’ll slot in and just go from there.”
After an epic injury toll contributed to Penrith missing out on the finals last year, Moylan insisted the roster was capable of a top-eight spot under his leadership.
“I always had the confidence that we can make the finals,” he said.
“We’ve got a good, young side here and we’ve got the experienced players that can lead us around the park. We’ve got a good balance here going forward.”
YOUNGEST CAPTAINS IN THE NRL
Matt Moylan (Penrith) – 24 and seven months
Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers) – 24 and 10 months
Jarrod Croker (Canberra) – 25 and four months
Jake Friend (Sydney Roosters) – 25 and 11 months
Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters) – 26 and nine months
Gareth Widdop (St George-Illawarra) – 26 and 11 months