REIGNING PLAYER of the year Joel Moon admits he has a tough act to follow as Leeds Rhinos’ new No 6, but reckons he can form a winning combination with recruit Richie Myler.
Moon has worn the No 4 jumper since joining Rhinos ahead of the 2013 season, but moved up the squad list after club legend Danny McGuire’s move to Hull KR and his own conversion from centre to stand-off.
The 29-year-old Australian says he is still learning the role, but feels like a half-back now and is relishing getting back into action as Rhinos look to retain their Betfred Super League crown.
The No 6 shirt has been worn by some of the greatest players in Leeds’ history – including Lewis Jones, John Holmes and Garry Schofield –and was McGuire’s from 2003 until his man of the match performance in last year’s Grand Final win over Castleford Tigers. Moon will be the seventh player to occupy the number for Leeds in Super League, after Tony Kemp, Chev Walker, Daryl Powell, Brett Mullins, Ben Walker and McGuire.
“It has got a bit of history in it,” Moon said of his new number. “With Magsy, it’s big shoes to fill. I am looking forward to the year and playing No 6 and playing with Richie Myler. It should be a good year.”
Moon had a spell at stand-off during Rhinos’ Qualifiers campaign in 2016, but began last season in his regular role of centre. He was named in the halves for Leeds’ sixth game, at home to Wakefield Trinity and went on to make the position his own, finishing as Leeds’ top try scorer with 20 and being named player of the year.
“Last year I just got put there early on, but this year I’ve been training there and I’ve got the No 6 number, so hopefully I’ll start there,” he said.
“I feel like a stand-off now, I am learning and growing. At training I am learning a lot of stuff, I have still got heaps to go, but I am feeling more comfortable there and with the team as well, so it’s good.”
Myler, signed from Catalans Dragons, is Rhinos’ new No 7 and expected to start alongside Moon when Rhinos visit Warrington Wolves in Super League round one on Thursday, February 1.
“He’s really good, he’s a great player and a great talker and organiser, like Magsy,” Moon said.
“That’s what we needed, I am learning off him – like I did with Mags – and it’s going to be good for the team. He has settled in really well and he’s a good bloke. The boys love him and he’s looking forward to the year as well.”
Moon spent Christmas in Australia but says he is “back in the swing of it” at training, with just 23 days to go until the opening fixture.
He is likely to feature in Rhinos’ pre-season game at Castleford Tigers on Sunday, January 21 and said: “I’ve been here for a while now so it doesn’t take long to get back into the routine.
“I haven’t played for a while so I am feeling a bit edgy and I am looking forward to it.
“It’ll be a good hit-out against Cas. It is a long season, but I feel good body-wise and I am looking forward to the year.”