Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has made the first big call of his tenure by announcing Matt Moylan to replace Peter Wallace as captain for the upcoming NRL season.
Moylan’s appointment on Wednesday comes as a shock given the experience of Wallace, Jamie Soward, Trent Merrin and Elijah Taylor on the roster.
At just 24 years of age, Moylan becomes the youngest captain in the NRL.
But it was his composure and presence on the training paddock that had left an instant impression on Griffin since taking over from Ivan Cleary late last year.
“I’ve been here now three months and made sure I’ve taken my time with this decision. He’s a very composed young man,” Griffin said.
“He’s already achieved a hell of a lot in his short career, bearing in mind he still hasn’t turned 25 yet.”
The former Brisbane coach said he only began considering Moylan as a captaincy candidate after Christmas, but didn’t make his mind up until meeting with the City Origin representative last week.
“I had a chat to him and just wanted to make sure from his end that he was the right person,” he said.
“The biggest thing was he said he wanted the job and he wanted the responsibility.
“It wasn’t something that he questioned in himself or questioned my decision to ask him about it. That’s what convinced me that it was the right time to go with him.”
Moylan, who has long been compared to Broncos legend Darren Lockyer, said he was caught off guard by the decision, but was prepared to take on the role.
“Growing up, you want to play first grade and being from the local area, it’s a massive achievement and I’m really honoured to be named captain for this year,” he said.
“With the senior players we’ve got here and with (Peter Wallace), (Jamie Soward) guys like that that have done the job before, it was a bit of a surprise.
“But I’m ready for the challenge. It’ll help me going forward as a footy player.”
Griffin admitted Wallace, also a local product, would feel hard done by, but preferred the halfback focus on his return from twin knee reconstructions.
“Pete’s got a lot on his plate at the moment. He’s coming back from two knee reconstructions,” Griffin said.
“He’ll be a real good help to Matt, but the decision I made is about what I saw right at this time and at this time I want to help Pete with his immediate playing future.
“Hopefully he gets through the season without injury. He’s had a terrible run. That’s his main priority at the moment.”