Eight Immortal Andrew Johns has fired back at the “ridiculous” criticism of Mitch Moses’ State of Origin debut for NSW in their game three loss to Queensland.
Moses partnered Jack Wighton to form an all-new halves pairing for NSW amid some conjecture Souths stars and former Blues Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker should have been handed the No.6 and No.7 jerseys by Brad Fittler.
After slow start, Moses finished the night with two try assists and a handful of big defensive plays in the 20-18 loss. But despite his efforts, the newcomer was quickly being pinned in some circles as the scapegoat of NSW’s missed series sweep.
It led Parramatta icon Peter Sterling to launch an impassioned defence of the halfback this weekend. And now Johns, who works closely with Mitchell at the Eels, says he’s heard enough.
“It’s ridiculous,” Johns said of the criticism being cast Moses’ way.
“To go in as your first game as the halfback and run the show, it’s incredibly difficult.
“I’ve spoken to Mitchell about his performance, obviously I work with him at Parramatta, I thought early on he found it difficult to impose himself on the game – whether that was about combinations with Jack Wighton but also Damien Cook. But I thought as the game went on longer, the more comfortable he looked.
“The last 10 minutes when the game was on the line, that’s when he really stood up.”
Moses and Wighton had their moments in Origin III but were unable to steer the Blues past a rejuvenated Maroons outfit spurred on by some heroic plays by Ben Hunt and Kalyn Ponga.
Still, Sterling was perplexed at some of the criticism filtering Moses’ way.
“I’m sick and tired of Mitchell Moses’ name being mentioned,” Sterling told Triple M.
“He had a fine game. His defence was superb, his kicking was excellent. If there was a criticism I had he maybe didn’t push up enough on the back of the forwards, when they went forward and there might’ve been some second-phase play.
Tempers flare as Maroons hold on
“Again, the people who are criticising were the ones who said his job was to get the ball to Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic.
“And then the statistic comes out that he had no runs for no metres … some of the best games I ever played I had no runs for no metres, you can make them appear the way that you want.
“I’m over the criticism. I love Adam Reynolds and I love Cody Walker and I respect them enormously as players – I don’t even know why they’re in the conversation now.”