It’s taken five years for the penny to drop but Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses says he now understands what it takes to guide his side through the pressure of a finals series.
The Eels took another important step towards September football with a 36-12 win over the bottom-placed Titans on Friday night with Moses’s fingerprints on five of the six tries Parramatta scored in their fourth win on the trot.
Brad Arthur's men are guaranteed a place in the finals just 12 months after claiming the wooden spoon and two years removed from a disappointing finals exit.
That 2017 campaign in which the Eels bowed out courtesy of successive losses to the Storm and Cowboys continues to burn but the added responsibility of being the senior playmaker has elevated Moses to a new level.
Weeks away from his 25th birthday and with 126 NRL games to his name, Moses says he now appreciates that patience is just as valuable as individual brilliance.
"I've had to learn over the past few years to not always play the big play; the big play will come later in the game,” Moses said.
"It's taken me probably five years to learn that.
"I kind of feel like I'm doing that at the moment but still a lot of work to do.”
Moses’s two try assists against the Titans took his tally for the year to 26, an incredible eight clear of second-placed uke Keary.
He is both the facilitator and the finishing touch and with a team-first mentality that Arthur says is at the heart of the team’s resurgence in 2019.
"He's composed and all about the team,” Arthur said.
“He probably ran more tonight than he has the last couple of weeks but the opportunities presented.
“He's not trying to force his hand, he's just doing what's best for the team. That composure filters through the group.”
Brad Takairangi was an established member of the squad when Moses arrived from Wests Tigers in 2017 and has no doubt that the extra responsibility following the departure of Corey Norman last year has contributed to Moses’s development.
Match Highlights: Titans v Eels
"He's the sole chief now. He's our main leader on the field with his direction and his kicking game has gone to a whole new level,” Takairangi said.
"He's a real leader now. He's grabbed the team by its throat and made sure that it's his.”
With Norman replaced by 18-year-old Dylan Brown in the halves in round one and 20-year-old Reed Mahoney the team’s first choice No.9, Moses said Arthur’s confidence in his ability to lead the team made his transition that much easier to make.
“I've got an 18-year-old five-eighth next to me, a 20-year-old hooker and even ‘Gutho’ [Clint Gutherson] is only 24 himself. We're probably the youngest spine in the comp and I really took charge,” Moses said.
“I said I'd guide them around the field and finish where we want to finish.
“The relationship I've got with Brad, he's been the best thing for me.
“He’s given me confidence. To see the confidence he has in me to let me go run the team and when we're in a tough situation to get us out of it, I'm loving my footy at the moment.”