Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses has opened up on the influence eighth Immortal Andrew Johns will have on the Eels 2020 premiership hopes, saying: “I’ve never had a coach who could teach me like this”.
Already outed by Brad Fittler as a contender for the NSW Origin halves this year, 25-year-old Mitchell says his twice-weekly sessions with Johns are like nothing he has ever done before.
Better, the Eels playmaker revealed the club’s new specialist coach was “teaching me how to really play” in the No.7 jersey – even after a year where he was crowned Dally M halfback, earned an Australian Nines jersey and orchestrated more tries than Cooper Cronk, Cameron Munster or Luke Keary.
If the Eels are to break what is now rugby league’s longest premiership drought – having not won a title since way back in 1986 — much will depend not only on poster boy Moses, but also his relationship with teen sensation Dylan Brown.
Twice a week, rugby league’s eighth Immortal is working not only with the Eels halves but the entire spine, usually in sessions lasting around 90 minutes.
“And Joey’s teaching me how to really play the halfback position,” Mitchell told The Daily Telegraph.
“That’s the best thing he’s done for me.
“He’s the best halfback to ever play the game and the stuff he’s teaching me – just how to engage the line, how to create space for the men outside you – it’s really effective.
“I’ve never had a coach who could teach me how to play the actual position before.
“But he’s giving me so many tips.
“Joey’s been great for me, Dylan (Brown), our whole spine.”
Asked if he was surprised by how much Johns had taught him, Moses continued: “I’m just excited to go test it in games.
“You can always learn new things, no matter how far you are into your career, and Joey has been great for me the way that he’s done that.”
Moses is one of several stars named in a red-hot Eels side contesting the NRL Nines in Perth this weekend — with the squad also boasting Wests Tigers recruit Ryan Matterson, skipper Clint Gutherson, Fijian flyer Maika Sivo, NSW Origin star Blake Ferguson and hyped teenager Stefano Utoikamanu.
Dylan Brown will link up again with Mitchell Moses in the halves. Picture: Damian Shaw
The Parramatta halfback also insisted he and young five-eighth Brown would be a stronger combination when the season proper gets underway, given the latter missed a chunk of last season with a troublesome back issue.
“Only with repetition do you start to learn what works best for each other,” Moses said. “And I think now, after our second pre-season together, we’ve worked that out.
“For Dylan, he just needs to simplify his game.
“Keep things simple, do what he needs to do and I’ll take as much pressure off him as possible.
“After the injury problems he had last year, this pre-season has really been about looking after his back and getting the work in — which he’s done.
“Dylan has made sure he is doing all the right things.”
Elsewhere, Moses suggested the way his Eels were bundled out of last year’s title race, thumped by Melbourne 32-zip in the semi-finals, had steeled them for a stronger showing this winter.
“The way we finished last year, it was upsetting,” the Eels No.7 conceded. “Through the year, we had a problem playing away but felt it was fixed by the finals.
“But then for that last game (at AAMI Park), we just didn’t turn up. Yet the experience of that game will be great for us.
“We were a young side last year and we can build on that.”