Moa full of praise for Kiwis teammates
Saturday night's clash between the Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters might look like a mismatch on paper, but it will be anything but when two of the most formidable packs in the NRL Telstra Premiership meet at Allianz Stadium.
It reads as 2nd v 15th on the ladder, but history tells us that this is a match-up between two of the competition's heavyweights of the past decade.
While both teams possess plenty of class all over the park, there is no denying the main event of this title bout will be played through the middle.
The Roosters will head into the match with half-a-dozen forwards boasting international experience, but seasoned campaigner Sam Moa believes it's Melbourne's Kiwi connection that makes them a real threat.
Only teams that have played an extra game this season have made more metres than the Storm in 2016 and much of that territorial dominance is due to the yardage gained by Jesse Bromwich, Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor.
Moa has seen them develop at both club and international level over the years, and while they don't necessarily attract the same attention as some of the NRL's larger packs, he believes that suits them just fine.
"They don't get the credit that they deserve. I think they like that. Knowing the boys, especially the Kiwis boys, they're very humble and they just like to go about their business," Moa said.
"They're one of the top, if not the top forward packs in terms of certain skillset that they have. They're flying under the radar and they're not getting much recognition from everyone and I think the like that. They're a very good football side."
In a side littered with international talent, no one instils more fear in the opposition than powerhouse prop Jesse Bromwich.
With Billy Slater out for the season, the Kiwis captain has fought his way into the famed 'big three' at the club, and the title is certainly justified.
Bromwich is averaging just shy of 150 metres per game and is one of the best promoters of the football with a whopping 30 offloads halfway through the season.
His footwork and ability to ball play before or through the line has caused defensive lines many a problem in 2016, but his form comes as no surprise to his New Zealand teammate.
Moa has seen Bromwich go from a quietly-spoken youngster with plenty of talent to skipper of the national side and arguably the premier prop in the game.
"He's an outstanding player and a very dedicated and nice guy," the Rooster said.
"He doesn't say much, Jesse, especially as captain. But he's a typical front-rower who just goes about his job. I can't speak highly enough of his ability as a player. He's only in his mid-20s so he's only going to get better.
"When you combine the likes of himself and Tohu and Kevin with Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, that's a fairly solid and outstanding team."
While Bromwich is the undeniable lynchpin of the Storm pack, Moa admitted there was another player on his radar leading into Saturday's showdown.
Listed at 201cm and 122kg, Nelson Asofa-Solomona is pretty hard to miss at the best of times. But when he's bulldozing players and offloading in the wet as he did last week against the Panthers, opponents start to take more notice of the highly-touted youngster.
"Have one look at him and he's enough to scare you," a petrified Moa said.
"I might have to try and ankle tap him at some point. I don't know how I'm going to try and stop him, to be fair. I think he makes Jared (teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves) looks small. But I'll leave that for a big fella like Jared to sort him out."
It'll be a task Waerea-Hargreaves will surely relish after he showed last weekend that he had fully recovered from the knee injury that cut short his 2015 campaign.
Having seen his fellow front-rower brutalise the Tigers with a staggering 247 metres from 66 minutes in his first start of the year, Moa warned the rest of the NRL that Waerea-Hargreaves's best was still to come.
"Jared was outstanding for us last week," the Roosters prop said.
"I don't think you people actually realise the severity of the injury that he had. Seeing him work as hard as he did to get back into good physical condition is a credit to him and he's always a dedicated trainer and dedicated father.
"He's only just going to get better on what you saw last week. I'm sure if he stays healthy he's only going to get better. It's a great thing to see as a good mate of his."
This article originally featured on NRL.COM