A year ago he was the face of the NRL’s farcical second-tier salary cap restrictions. Now he is one game away from a fairytale NRL Grand Final and eyeing a shock Kangaroos call up. The rise of Matt Moylan has stunned many respected rugby league pundits, but they aren’t the only ones caught off-guard by his dramatic improvement this season. Former junior opponent Jake Cross is astonished at how far Moylan has come since his days playing for the St Clair Comets.

“He wasn’t anything special when I played him,” recalls the twenty-three year old builder from Werrington Downs. “A standout in that Comets team to be sure, but I reckon I had him for pace back then.”

Cross, who was top tryscorer in Penrith District Junior Rugby League Under 11s in 2001, remembers the last time he encountered Matt Moylan as if it were yesterday. “Last time we played the Comets, I was sixteen. I was playing centre and ‘Moyza’ was playing half. He scored a first half double, but I smashed him in the ribs after that. He didn’t score any more tries that game.”

“I thought he had a little bit of talent, but he was a bit of a cat too in those days.”

Although he never cracked the Penrith junior development squads, Jake Cross insists he was on their radar until a third ACL injury to his right knee ended his rugby league career at just seventeen years of age. While Moylan gets ready for the biggest game of his young career, Cross will be toiling on the job site at Jordan Springs.

“I dunno what time I’ll finish, but I’ll probably watch the game at ‘The Peachy’ (Peachtree Tavern) afterwards.”