Life after Trent Hodkinson could not have started better for Queensland hopeful Moses Mbye, says Bulldogs captain James Graham.
But there may be some challenges ahead for Josh Reynolds.
Graham said he could not fault Mbye’s transition to star playmaker in the absence of Hodkinson, who has linked with Newcastle.
But the World All Stars forward admitted the passionate Reynolds would need to re-think his approach without the calming influence of NSW No.7 Hodkinson by his side.
Graham admired Reynolds’ heart but said the time had come for the livewire pivot to take on more responsibility.
“Trent (Hodkinson) was a huge organiser for us, had a great kicking game, and was a rock in defence,” Graham said ahead of Saturday night’s All Stars clash in Brisbane.
“(After) losing him Josh will need to take on more responsibility in terms of getting us around the park.
“Josh is such a good player because he is so instinctive, he plays with that high energy, you don’t want to disregard any of that.
“But he may have to think a bit more going into games on how he is going to manage the game.”
Reynolds twice missed matches last season due to suspension.
England international Graham had no such concerns with Mbye, tipping the halfback’s meteoric rise to continue in 2016.
Former bench warmer Mbye’s form ensured selection headaches over the best starting halves pairing for coach Des Hasler before Hodkinson’s season-ending wrist injury last August.
“It’s been quite a quick rise. Twelve months ago Moses was the outside back who would come in and fit somewhere in the team (backline),” Graham said.
“Now he finds himself very much the starting six or seven for us.
“A lot of responsibility comes with that but I am backing him to thrive on it, to kick his game on another level.
“There is clarity in what his role is with the team and he is such a smart kid too.
“I am excited about his future.”
The 22-year-old Mbye is tipped to also step up for Queensland this year.
Queensland’s depth is set to be tested after eight players copped 12-month Origin bans for breaking curfew at an Emerging Maroons camp.
“Queensland are very blessed with their halves, they have got two there that are almost irreplaceable (Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk),” Graham said.
“And there’s (Daly) Cherry-Evans as well.
“But Moses has got the world at his feet.
“If he keeps on improving and working on his game he can be anything.”