Moylan taking game to next level
YOU often hear coaches say players go ahead in leaps and bounds after getting their first taste of playing State of Origin.
Penrith coach Anthony Griffin witnessed it several times when he was head coach of the Brisbane Broncos.
He is experiencing it again with Panthers fullback Matt Moylan, who has taken his game to another level since making his debut for New South Wales in this year's interstate series.
Moylan's performance against the Bulldogs last week in the Panthers' 28-12 elimination semi-final win was world class and his combination with robust winger Josh Mansour has blossomed.
The Penrith skipper ran 142 metres - not unusual for a fullback, but it was his quality with ball in hand, including two try assists to take his season tally to 20, that really caught the eye.
He will need a similar game against Canberra on Saturday to set up a grand final qualifying clash with Melbourne, which has the best defensive structure in the NRL.
Since Origin, Moylan has involved himself a lot more in attack with a lot more touches of the ball.
Halfback Nathan Cleary has been one of the finds of the year and despite being only 18 he has the maturity to know when to let Moylan and veteran Peter Wallace take over and when to run the team.
It is one of the reasons Penrith's enterprising attack works so well, with players such as Bryce Cartwright and makeshift centre Tyrone Peachey able to chip in when they see an opportunity.
Wallace has rediscovered his game at hooker, which is another bonus for the Panthers, who have scored some wonderful tries heading into the final.
Bookmakers have made Canberra favourite, mainly because it will have a vocal home crowd at GIO Stadium and because, like Penrith, it can pile on points quickly.