In many ways the last 12 months have been frustrating for Matt Moylan.
It is just over a year to the day that the former Penrith captain was a no-show from the NRL finals series launch, instead meeting with Panthers general manager Phil Gould to discuss his future at the club.
A falling out with then coach Anthony Griffin saw him leave Penrith, with Cronulla circling the former NSW representative before finally getting their man.
A slow start to his Cronulla career, hampered by knee and hamstring injuries, added to Moylan’s frustration. But Moylan began to find his feet in the shire.
It was a performance against the Knights in Newcastle in round 12 that showed the real Matt Moylan had finally arrived at Cronulla. He was at his mercurial, magical best that day, completely running the game to produce six try assists in the Sharks’ 48-10 victory.
It was like Moylan was playing a different game to everyone else on the field. Moylan playing touch football, the rest just watching.
The 27-year-old has been in excellent form as part of Cronulla’s four-game winning streak leading into the finals. Moylan is also a year older and wiser since his departure from Penrith and said it was good to be playing in September again.
“Obviously I wasn’t playing [finals] last year. Looking forward to the opportunity this year. Pretty excited about being back out there,” he said.
“[It was] obviously frustrating [last year], wanted to be out there playing. That’s the past now.
“I think I probably matured from the whole situation [at Penrith] as well. Definitely a learning curve for me. I’ve moved on and I’m enjoying my footy here.
“I think everyone wants to play finals footy. It’s a goal of not only mine but the club and us as a team is to be making sure we’re here playing finals footy.”
Cronulla are hunting their second premiership in three years and the chance to win premierships was one of the reasons Moylan chose Cronulla.
With a number of their 2016 title-winning side still in the shire Moylan believes this year is the best chance of his career so far to earn himself an elusive premiership ring.
“I think with the experience we’ve got in the squad, we’ve got a lot of players that have done it before so in terms of experience yes,” he said.
“But we’ve got to go out and still put that performance together and make sure we’re doing everything right to get ourselves in that position to give the competition a good crack.
“I’m feeling sweet. Pretty comfortable with how I’m going. Just looking to improve each week.”
Moylan turned to some of Cronulla’s experienced heads to help get him through his slightly rocky start at the Sharks.
Wade Graham and Luke Lewis, who had previously made the move from Penrith to Cronulla, provided the strong advice to smooth Moylan’s transition.
“Obviously took a little while. I started the year pretty slow. Missed a couple of games there with injury. It was always going to take a bit of time. That didn’t help,” he said.
“But probably the middle of the year, about seven or eight rounds in I started to feel more confident. I think it’s grown from there.
“Obviously I wanted to come out and start the year good but that wasn’t the case. Speaking to a few of the players that have come over and done it before like Lewy and Wadeo, they always said it was going to take a bit of time to figure out how everyone else plays around you and how I fit into their system as well.
“Took a while but I think we’ve got there now, still hoping to improve.”
And if Matt Moylan does continue to improve, the rest of the competition will need to look out. A fit and firing Moylan in September could become Cronulla’s ace up their sleeve.