REIGNING PLAYER-of-the-year Joel Moon has given Leeds Rhinos a big-game boost by declaring himself fully fit and raring to go.
The Australian stand-off will be crucial to Rhinos’ hopes of upsetting Melbourne Storm in two days’ time.
Moon missed last Thursday’s Betfred Super League win over Hull KR due to a leg injury, but is confident that setback will not keep him out of the Downer World Club Challenge at AAMI Park.
Moon has been training with the team in Melbourne and confirmed last week’s lay-off was a precaution.
“I am all good, playing on Friday is what I am here to do,” Moon said. “I just had a little niggling injury and I wanted to definitely be right for this week.
“I feel good. I feel better for not playing last week; this week has been good, we’ve trained hard and I am looking forward to the game.”
Rhinos have been hit by run of injuries in the pack, but Moon’s return will ensure their backs are at full strength if everyone gets through the final two training sessions.
Star-studded Storm are huge favourites to win a third world title, but Moon is “really excited” at the prospect of taking on the NRL champions in their own backyard and defiant about Leeds’ chances.
“This is a big opportunity for us, to come over here and play in Australia,” he stated. “It’s good for me and it’s good for the team.
“Both teams are at the start of the season.
“We have got things to work on, it’s going to be a good, tough game and it’ll be hard to beat Melbourne, but we are ready for it.”
Storm are the NRL’s minor premiers and Grand Final winners and Moon knows the scale of the task facing Leeds.
“I know one or two of them from playing over here,” he said of Friday’s rivals.
“They are going to be tough to beat and we have to be on our game if we want to give it a good go.
“We’re a good team and we have been in some big occasions and this is another one for us. We’re looking forward to it and all the boys are really excited at this opportunity.
“It is a massive game, it is the best teams from Super League and the NRL and it’s going to be good.”
Staging the tie Down Under has given Rhinos’ Australian contingent a rare chance to play on home turf.
Friends and family are flying into Melbourne from across the country, including an 20-strong group cheering Moon.
“Playing over here is special and I don’t do it much,” he said.
“It is exciting times and I am just going to enjoy it.”
Meanwhile, Moon is out of contract at the end of the season and his form since switching from centre to stand-off last year is likely to have attracted attention from Australian clubs.
But asked if he harbours ambitions of a return to the NRL, the former Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Warriors man stressed: “I am just focused on Super League at the moment, with Leeds.
“That’s the first focus for me.”