FORMER SUPER League prop Richard Moore aims to end a rollercoaster year on a high tomorrow, by helping Hunslet Hawks win the Kingstone Press Championship One Grand Final.
Moore – playing on dual-registration – was a member of the Hawks side which lost 46-8 at home to Featherstone Rovers in the last round of the 2013 Championship season, confirming relegation to the third tier.
Since then he has been released by two Super League clubs – Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – before becoming a key figure in Hawks’ march to tomorrow’s Grand Final against Oldham at Headingley Carnegie (4.05pm).
“One of the main reasons I came here was because it was so disappointing last season, getting relegated,” Moore admitted.
“As soon as I had an opportunity to try and get the team back up I was really excited about the challenge. I think I owed them a bit.
“It was a bit weird last year, because I had Leeds to go back to. Some of the other lads were moving into Championship One and it was frustrating for me, but it must have been even harder for them.
“I knew I was going back to Leeds so it didn’t really hit me as much. It hit me a few days later, but to see the wives crying and some of the lads had tears in their eyes as well, it wasn’t a nice place to be.
“To get into the Grand Final and have a chance of promotion a year later, for Hunslet Hawks and everybody involved in the club it is an outstanding achievement.”
Hawks finished second in the league table, but were pipped 25-24 by Oldham in a home play-off three weeks ago.
“We made a few dumb errors, turning the ball over cheaply on first plays and things like that,” Moore said. “I think if we cut them out it is going to be a really tough game and a really good game.”
Hawks bounced back from the Oldham loss by thrashing Gateshead Thunder 50-6 and then winning 32-24 at league leaders York City Knights six days ago.
That victory, in the final eliminator, will stand Hawks in good stead for tomorrow, according to Moore.
Hunslet trailed 12-0 at the break and were eight points behind deep into the final quarter, but a spirited fightback – culminating in three tries in the final six minutes – saw them through.
Moore – who played the full 80 minutes last week – reflected: “We got turned over by Oldham and going to the champions we knew it was going to be a tough ask, but all the lads were buzzing and up for the task.
“As soon as Oldham beat York I have never seen a bunch of blokes so excited about playing.
“The lads dug deep and we showed a lot of character. We played a bit dumb at times and the first 20 minutes we were trying to score every play, rather than wearing them down.
“They got to the kick every time and they were patient. We were behind the black ball at half-time, but the fight in the lads since I’ve been here is tremendous and we got through in the end.”
Hawks’ previous appearance in a Grand Final – their Northern Ford Premiership victory over Dewsbury Rams in 1999 – was also at the home of Leeds Rhinos.
Moore said: “Headingley is a very special place. I always enjoy playing at Headingley, whether it was for Leeds or any other club I have always got excited about playing there.
“With Hunslet getting there I should imagine there will be quite a few Leeds fans there, supporting us, which will be good for the club.
“I am so excited about it. It is going to be tough, but I believe in this group of lads – that we can go to Headingley and win it.
“There was a drop goal in it last time we played Oldham so it’s not going to be an easy game, but we need to turn up ready to play and believe in ourselves.”
Moore had a spell in Rhinos’ academy more than a decade ago before playing for Bradford Bulls, London Broncos, Leigh Centurions, Wakefield and Crusaders. He re-joined Leeds ahead of the 2012 campaign after the Welsh outfit dropped out of Super League, but was released in the last off-season with a year remaining on his contract.
He joined Wakefield and was a regular side in there, before being leaving the club in August “by mutual consent”. He will be moving on from Hunslet after tomorrow, whatever the result against Oldham, though he hasn’t ruled out a return to South Leeds Stadium at some stage in the future.
“I have signed a two-year deal somewhere,” he said. “I signed about two months ago and I am just waiting for them to announce it.
“From leaving Wakefield to going training in November, I thought it would be a long time and playing for Hunslet is a bonus for me, keeping fit and making sure I’ll be in good shape for pre-season.
“There would be no better way to sign off from this year than as a champion, knowing I have done my bit to get Hunslet Hawks promoted. That would be a great way to finish the year.”