BY CURTIS WOODWARD
It is a Saturday afternoon in Penrith – the crowd is restless. Their team, the Panthers, are having a shocker against the New Zealand Warriors.
Penrith are down 26-8 and have no way back against the rampaging visitors.
It’s May, a lifetime ago, long before rumblings became an avalanche and captain Matt Moylan left for Cronulla. The expectation on this Saturday was that the Panthers would make light work of the consistently inconsistent Warriors. Yet here they were, down 26-8.
Then something amazing happened – the Panthers started playing footy. In the space of 12 minutes they scored four tries. Isaah Yeo in the 47th minute, Dallin Watene-Zalezniak in the 53rd, Waqa Blake two minutes later and Moylan himself in the 59th. By then, the Warriors were gone. Tyrone Peachey clinched it officially with a try four minutes from time.
The blitzkrieg and eventual win simply glossed over serious issues between Moylan and everyone else.
Perception immediately following the game was that the Panthers were still a premiership contender. The reality was something different.
It’s been noted that Moylan has never been comfortable with the captaincy tag bestowed on him by coach Anthony Griffin. Current Panthers General Manager had once made Brad Fittler skipper, why couldn’t Griffin do it with Moylan?
The difference was Fittler grew into the role and understood his place in the game and at his club.
Moylan never wanted it.
After the comeback win over the Warriors, players headed back to the Panthers club for the post-match function. Like it should be, players mingle with fans. Some of the players hang around after the function for a few more drinks. Two of those players were Moylan and new Panthers prop James Tamou.
The story goes that Tamou was nothing but kind and courteous, well presented and took photos with fans.
Moylan was having a little more fun outside in the pokies area.
“Tamou was dressed to the nines and was walking around just getting photos with patrons and doing the old meet-and-greet,” a source who was at the club told The81stMinute.
“Moylan was dressed the same but had his sleeves rolled up and the top few buttons undone, out the back [in the] smoking area, chugging a dart and punching cans of Canadian Club. [He] was running around like a 15-year-old slapping the pokies.”
Nobody is saying a footy player can’t let their hair down – especially in the safety of their own leagues club.
The story here is where Moylan is at as a leader and as a man.
His arrival at Cronulla makes sense for him.
Paul Gallen is the undisputed captain and Wade Graham is next.
Moylan will never have to worry about leading a footy team ever again.
Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.