Desperate for some league articles that don’t revolve around Latrell Mitchell, I’ve decided to have a go at predicting which teams will jump up into this year’s top eight – and at the expense of who.
As we move close to November 1, rumours around player movement in 2021 will intensify. We have seen it already with David Fifita. There will be many more names discussed before the end of the week.
In terms of next season though, the move that’s attracting the most media attention is a potential swap between Matt Moylan and Ryan Matterson.
This swap makes perfect sense, and here’s why.
It’s no secret that the Cronulla Sharks need to offload players, partially to cater for the salary cap penalties, but also to fit Jesse Ramien into the team.
Some savings would have been made by the retirement of Paul Gallen and the movement of Sosaia Feki, Jayden Brailey and Kyle Flanagan. However, it doesn’t appear to be enough and the Sharks are still looking to shed players to be cap compliant. Matt Prior has been one name discussed. Matt Moylan is another.
Assuming Ramien returns to the Sharks, the back line from 1-5 looks something like this: Josh Dugan, Josh Morris, Ramien, Bronson Xerri and Ronaldo Mulitalo. Chad Townsend and Shaun Johnson will surely start in the halves.
There doesn’t appear to be a spot in the starting 13 for Moylan. There’s no doubting Moylan’s talent but his best option with the Sharks would be to play off the bench. The Sharks can’t afford to have a large slice of their salary cap tied up outside their top 13.
With the off-season retirement of Paul Gallen and continuing talk about Matt Prior, the Sharks’ forward pack depth is shaky. Toby Rudolf was impressive in the NSW Cup and will likely get his call-up to the top squad. After his heroics for Newtown, Billy Magoulias will likely earn a spot on the bench.
Ryan Matterson would be ideal to start at lock for Cronulla. With Blayke Brailey likely to take time finding his feet in first grade, Matterson would provide another playmaking option for the Sharks outside Townsend, Johnson and Wade Graham.
The other attraction for the Sharks is that Matterson would come cheaper than Moylan.
The Wests Tigers have the opposite issue to the Sharks. If they lack depth anywhere, it is in the back line. Esan Marsters has joined the Cowboys while Mahe Fonua is playing over in the UK.
The Tigers’ back line is probably Corey Thompson, Robert Jennings, Moses Mbye, Paul Momirovski and David Nofoaluma.
While a solid back line, there’s limited experience outside those five and there is a missing X-factor in terms of creativity. Moylan could fill that gap at fullback.
The longer term issue for the Tigers is that Benji Marshall has recently signed on for another 12 months. It is unlikely that he will continue in 2021.
Matt Moylan is arguably a better five-eighth than a fullback and would be an ideal option next to one of the best organisers in the game, Luke Brooks. With Brooks controlling most of the show, Moylan would be able to get involved when he sees opportunities.
With Robbie Farah also retiring, the Tigers need to find ways to score more points and this is where Moylan is at his best.
The next few weeks are expected to be a busy time for player movement and the Moylan-Matterson swap will surely come under focus again. Both the Sharks and the Tigers should be very keen to make this happen.