Moses: I had to say no to the yes men
Parramatta star Mitch Moses has revealed the breakthrough moment of his burgeoning career came when ditching a backslapping bunch of opinionated mates and yes men.
"They tell you what you want to hear," Moses said. "I had to learn the hard way."
Speaking at Fox Sports' league launch at the SCG on Tuesday, Moses opened up about having to "cut loose" friends who overinflated the Eels stars' ability. Moses claimed they "overwhelmed him".
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"I had people in my life who I thought were good people for me and my footy but I was relying on them too much. What they thought was good for me, wasn't. They tell you what you want to hear," Moses told The Daily Telegraph.
"It took me a lot of time to realise that I needed to cut them loose and it has been the best for me. I guess I had to learn the hard way.
"You play first grade footy and everyone wants to get into your ear and tell you how to play and tell you you're the best - they would tell me I was playing good footy but I wasn't.
"It was about owning up to that fact I wasn't playing good footy, owning your mistakes. I realised I had to do something.
"I have been through relationships with people that aren't there anymore and I'm better for it. I had too much outside noise and was listening to too many outside of footy rather than just focusing on myself.
"People tell you to 'play like this, play like that'. You get overwhelmed but I have learned how to handle it a lot better. You have a lot of people telling you what to do."
The man to watch Moses struggle was Eels coach Brad Arthur, who stepped in and sent his frontline playmaker down a different path.
"Even though we were coming off a bad year (in 2018), I just felt calm last season. It was because I was taking ownership of myself. I wasn't relying on those people to help me with stuff," Moses said.
"In the past I kept things to myself and it probably hurt me. I have learned some tough lessons but I'm in a good place and know how to handle it now. Hopefully it has shaped me into a better person.
"Coming to Parramatta, Brad has been one of the best things for me. He has been enormous for me as a person but also for my footy. I can't thank him enough for the chance to play at Parramatta.
"Brad and I have had some very honest conversations. He has shown faith in me so it's only right if I pay it back."
Moses refused to name names of those who mislead him.
"Just certain people - I just feel a lot clearer now," he admitted.
Moses performed to a sustained, elite level last season, driving Parramatta into week two of the finals.
According to rival players, Moses now looks ready to take another leap forward and win a premiership. The player though is refusing to be suffocated by pressure.
"There will always be talk," Moses said. "In the past, I probably haven't handled (expectations) the best, I guess. I think I have learned a lot of lessons from those past years. Hopefully I have learned a lot for that not to happen again.
"I have been through a fair bit in my young career and I have learned a lot of lessons along the way so hopefully I won't let things slip this time. It has made me mature faster than what normal people would.
"I wouldn't call it pressure but more about how to handle game situations, just life really, having that good balance between footy and when away from footy. Hopefully I have learned enough."
Parramatta famously beat Brisbane in round one of last year's finals but limped out feeling dissatisfied after a big loss to Melbourne a week later. But there is a feeling among rival clubs that Parramatta is building, as is Moses as a player.
Asked were the levels increasing for himself and the team, Moses said: "I hope so. There is a good feeling around the club at the moment.
"We are going to have to aim for the top four. The teams in the past couple of years that have won the comp have been in the top four. That's going to be our goal.
"We'll have to start the season well - that's a big thing. If you don't you then you start chasing your tail and it ends up being too tough. I like how we're training but I'm sure every single NRL club would be thinking they can win the comp but we're looking alright."