Rugby League

Anthony Griffin facing another big call on futures of Panthers Matt Moylan and Peter Wallace

Anthony Griffin made a big call in dropping Peter Wallace as captain for Matt Moylan, but the new Penrith coach faces an even bigger decision over whether the pair fit into his halves plans.

Moylan was a surprise choice when unveiled as skipper on Wednesday given Wallace was the incumbent and teammate James Segeyaro publicly backed the veteran No.7 as the players' choice just a day earlier. The move will do little to quell speculation about Wallace's future given Griffin moved him on during their time at Brisbane.

New team: Matt Moylan and Anthony Griffin on Wednesday.
New team: Matt Moylan and Anthony Griffin on Wednesday. Photo: Adrian Proszenko

Moylan was offered the captaincy about a week ago and was given a couple of days to ponder whether he was ready for responsibility, during which time he sought the advice of club supremo Phil Gould.

"The only people I spoke to about it was Gus [Gould] and Hook [Griffin]," Moylan said.

"I kept it quiet, and made the decision from there.

"Gus was very supportive and said what sort of responsibility it is, and the pressure that will come with it when things aren't going right. It was good to get that advice and know there will be tough times throughout captaincy … It's a huge honour and big responsibility, but I think it will bring out the best in me as a player."

Where Moylan plays, however, remains a mystery. The 24-year-old has been touted as a future State of Origin representative after impressing at fullback, but a Darren Lockyer-style shift to halves is expected at some stage. Moylan and Griffin were coy on whether it will be in time for this season, ensuring plenty of scrutiny on playmaking selections during the trials.

"I don't know yet," Griffin said when pressed on where his new leader will play.

"I haven't seen them play yet. I can't wait. If there was a game on this weekend I'd give him half a game at fullback and half a game at five-eighth."

Asked in which position Moylan would play, the former Broncos mentor said: "He's the captain, he can decide."

Wallace and Moylan's seasons were prematurely ended by injuries in 2015, adding further intrigue to the make-up of the halves for opening NRL clash of the new year against Canberra. Wallace's axing from Red Hill and now the captaincy under Griffin clouds his future, while incumbent half Jamie Soward has also been put on notice after form and fitness issues last season. Youngster Te Maire Martin, recruited from Wests Tigers, is also making a strong claim for a halves spot.

Asked if Wallace is entitled to feel hard done by after losing the captaincy, Griffin said: "He might be. But Pete has a lot on his plate at the moment, he's coming back from two knee reconstructions, he'll be a really good help to Matt.

"But the decision I made is about what I saw right at this time, and at this time I want to help Pete with his immediate playing future, and hopefully he gets through the season without injury, he's had a terrible run. That's his main priority at the moment."

Moylan said that he would have no hesitation in seeking Wallace's advice on captaincy matters and claimed there was no tension between the veteran playmaker and Griffin.

"There's nothing there, they're getting on really well," Moylan said.

"I'll have a chat [with Wallace] today, he's a top bloke and will be really supportive. He just wants to get out and play footy. We're both coming off big injuries, so our main focus this preseason was getting injuries right and getting back out there."

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