The critics came for Mitch Moses after his Origin debut, but he has the backing of his coach and wants another crack for the Blues.
NSW coach Brad Fittler insisted he had no regrets about his choice of halves after the heartbreaking game 3 loss to Queensland as debutant number seven Mitch Moses declared he would “love to be back” for another shot in the Origin arena.
The Blues halves Jack Wighton and Moses had a mixed night filling in for the injured Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, who had both played key roles in NSW’s big win in the opening two matches of the series
Wighton scored a try and Moses set one up with a deft kick in the 20-18 loss on the Gold Coast, but NSW failed to capitalise on several attacking opportunities close to the line where the halves were unable to ice the cake.
Fittler conceded as much when he said he was happy with the decision for Latrell Mitchell to attempt a penalty goal from 50m out in the 79th minute.
“The way we were attacking on their line didn’t give me much confidence they were going to score a try anyway,” Fittler said.
However, the NSW coach bristled when asked whether he had any regrets about not picking in-form Rabbitohs combination Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds, considering the already healthy South Sydney connection in the side.
“No. Mitchell Moses had the kick for the try and Jack Wighton scored a try, so I am not sure what your argument is,” Fittler replied.
“I thought they were great. I was really happy with Mitchell Moses. I thought Mitchell’s defence was outstanding … and Jack Wighton’s. There is always two sides to a game.”
In attack Moses had no runs for no metres for the night, while Wighton, who ran for more than 100m, had a couple of misdirected attacking kicks and failed to pass to Latrell Mitchell when he was unmarked and certain to score.
Moses said he was “rapt to debut” but conceded the loss was “very upsetting”, with NSW unable to complete a clean sweep despite winning the series.
“You have a little taste and you want to be back but what Nathan and Jarome did in those first two games was outstanding. The footy they played was unbelievable,” Moses said.
“It was my first game and I was a bit shocked by how quick it was and the line speed. I’d love to be back, but in saying that I am thankful for the opportunity that Freddy gave me.
“We were camped on our line in that first half for a good 15 minutes, but we kept turning them away. We had chances to win the game but we just didn’t nail our opportunities.”
Moses did defend like a demon and could hold his head high in that department, particularly in the first half when he made 12 tackles and missed none as the Maroons tested his mettle.
“It is definitely something I wanted to fix and I feel like I am in a good place there,” Moses said of his defensive improvement.
“ It helped having Turbo (Tom Trbojevic) and Cameron Murray inside and outside me and that made me feel really comfortable.”
“I will take a lot out of this game, learn from it and hopefully take it back to clubland.”
Moses was nailed early in the piece by Felise Kaufusi in a “welcome to Origin” bone rattler but got back up off the canvas.
“He got me an absolute beauty and I was feeling it pretty much the whole game after that, so it was pretty much a welcome to the arena,” Moses grinned.
NSW captain James Tedesco said Moses “definitely” belonged in the Origin arena.
“It is hard for him to come in and have all that expectation, especially after how good Nathan has been playing, but I thought he did his job well, kicked well and led the team well. I am happy for him,” Tedesco said.
The Eels playmaker said he wanted to back up against the Titans on Friday night in the opening NRL fixture of round 18.
“I am not too sure. I will speak to Brad (Arthur) and see what happens, but I am pretty happy to play,” he said.
Moses wants another Origin crack