Promising Wests Tigers playmaker Mitchell Moses says a brutally tough initiation to the NRL — coming into an injury-ridden team and winning just two of his 10 top-grade games in his 2014 debut season — will stand him in good stead as he looks to nail down a permanent first-grade spot.
The biggest lessons from that tough stretch were patience and the need to be able to back up for tough games week after week after week, Moses said.
"The wins weren't easy to come by last year; we only had two wins when I came into grade, I was coming into a bit of a down slope," Moses told NRL.com.
"[The lessons were] probably just to be patient and wait for my time... It taught me a lesson, definitely. And you've got to play week in week out... you can't have one week off, you'll get crucified, so that was probably the biggest lesson learned coming straight into grade like that."
Moses played his first six games at fullback before moving to the halves for the final four games. Easily the best performance – both individually and for the team overall – in those 10 tough weeks was a shock 48-18 hiding of eventual grand finalists Canterbury in Round 19.
The then-19-year-old set up five tries that afternoon, but things got a lot worse before they got better, with a series of ugly scores against the Tigers late in the year before he tasted victory for the second time – in his 10th game, against wooden spooners Cronulla.
That 26-10 victory at Leichhardt was Moses's first win in the halves, and it's there that he hopes to stake his claim for a spot alongside long-time playmaking partner Luke Brooks.
"I want to cement a spot [at five-eighth]; if' JT' [coach Jason Taylor] thinks I can play six, I'll play six. That's probably the spot I feel most comfortable at. If JT thinks I'm good to go there I'll put my hand up.
"With Luke there I definitely feel a lot more comfortable – we've been playing with each other since we were about 12 years old and I definitely think I play my best footy when I'm with Luke."
Defence was an issue for the pair in 2014; Moses missed 37 tackles in his 10 games while only Parramatta's Chris Sandow (5.6 misses per game) missed more than Brooks. But Moses doesn't think defence will be a problem once he's found his feet.
"I played about four games at five-eighth last year and I think I held myself up pretty well with the bigger boys running at me," he said.
"That was probably everyone's biggest worry about me but I'm a pretty confident kid and I was happy to throw my body around I was pretty confident that I had the ability to throw my body around [and] make those tackles."
His main goals are just to get on the ground for Round 1 and stay injury-free, especially given he battled a groin complaint late in 2014.
"I just need to get my body right and play injury free and try and play consecutive games of good footy week in week out. The body's all good now, I had a good pre-season under my belt which is probably my first one in about three years," he said.
Senior players like captain Robbie Farah and prop Aaron Woods, who each starred for the Blues during a victorious Origin campaign before donning the green and gold in the Four Nations, have been a huge help, according to Moses.
"They give me confidence on the field, if I make a mistake or at training – they'll make sure they pull me up and obviously you're going to listen to those two boys, they've done it all in the game," he said.
For his part, Woods said he was excited about what Moses and Brooks could bring to the club – but also cautioned fans to be patient with the inexperienced halves pairing.
"The fans can't be rushing these two, they're two of the best I've seen and you've just got to take your time," Woods told NRL.com.
"They're not going to be miracle workers early on, there's going to be times where it's going to be tough and we're going to have to rely on them a bit and they're a bit young for it, so you've just got to take your time with the boys, they'll come good."
He said he hoped each would be mainstays of the club for a long time to come.
"They're learning how to play rugby league and the NRL's a tough competition, 26 weeks week-in week-out, it's tough," he added.
This article first appeared on NRL.com and is used by permission.