It’s the conundrum that has been talked about for years, but always quietly brushed aside. From Ivan Cleary to Anthony Griffin, the general message has always been the same – not yet.
But the time has now come. Matt Moylan needs to shift from fullback to five-eighth and start the next chapter in his first grade career.
For a while now we’ve been happy with the fact that while Moylan wears the number 1 on his back, he is essentially a de facto half given the role he plays in attack. In the last few weeks, however, it has been evident that Moylan offers much more as a play making number six than he does at fullback.
As each game goes by, it is becoming more and more obvious that Moylan doesn’t offer the potent impact from fullback that others in the competition do. It is having a damaging result on Penrith’s start to sets and the side’s point scoring ability is suffering as a result.
Laurie Daley saw it and despite his inexperience in the role at club level named Moylan at five-eighth for the Blues last year. He did a stellar job.
A lot changes in 12 months and when Moylan was on the back of a ripping Jamie Soward pass, the current setup worked well. Soward is long gone, however, and Moylan doesn’t get the service from his inexperienced halves combination that he used to.
Moving Moylan into the halves also has some significant flow-on effects. It could possibly allow Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to fulfil a long-held desire to play fullback. That frees up a wing spot, potentially for Dylan Edwards, a talented back who the Panthers will struggle to keep if they can’t find him a permanent first grade spot.
Watene-Zelezniak at fullback, Edwards and Josh Mansour on the wings, Waqa Blake and Dean Whare in the centres, Moylan and Nathan Cleary in the halves. Griffin can then carry Tyrone Peachey on the bench for impact in the forwards or as a replacement for a back should injury hit.
I’m not a coach, and moving Moylan to five-eighth is hardly a light bulb moment, but after talking about it for years, I feel the time has finally come for Moylan to follow the Darren Lockyer career trajectory that so many suggest awaits him, and make the switch sooner rather than later.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.