Phoenix Crossland reckons he is never going to give any lip to a middle forward ever again.
Not after the young playmaker had a taste of what life is actually like in the NRL engine room against the Melbourne Storm last Sunday.
Off the back of a crash course in dummy half play last week from one of the greatest number 9's in the game's history, Crossland played 44 minutes against the Storm off the bench, the bulk of it in the hooking role.
Enough time to make 26 tackles in the middle, get his hands on the footy 55 times and give coach Adam O'Brien more than just an indication he will handle himself in the role again against the Wests Tigers on Saturday.
One bloke suitably impressed was his mentor for a couple of sessions, Danny Buderus.
"I thought he did really well," Buderus said.
"He had to go to a bit of a dark place defensively with tackle on tackle on tackle with some big bodies always coming at him whereas as a half, you tend to get a bit of a rest after you make a tackle.
"The pass was the big thing. He's got a beautiful pass as a halfback, left to right, flat when he's standing so it was a case of just getting a little bit of a different technique for passing off the deck.
"But I thought he looked pretty sharp. He had a couple of quick rucks and got out of there well and he's got that ability to bring people onto the ball. It will be good for his development as well, learning how a nine plays."
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For his part, Crossland admitted he now has far greater respect for hookers and middle forwards and the work they get through in games.
"I was saying to Kingy [Josh King] after the game that I'm never going to spray a middle again," he said. "It was different in there, it's a washing machine but I had lots of fun.
"That was the first time I've ever played hooker. I had a bit of a crash course with Bedsy during the week out on the field. You only really need a week with Bedsy anyway. He's pretty smart and tells you what to do. I just needed the week to get my head around it and I thought I did pretty well."
Asked about the biggest difference between hooker and halfback, Crossland said:
"Definitely the defence. I'm pretty fit as it is and I could run as long as I needed to but when you have to get up and down off the deck, it's a whole other level of fitness really.
"That was the biggest difference I noticed - the wrestle fitness too. I probably wasn't sort of used to that. But other than that, I felt pretty good physically."
Crossland will get another taste of playing in the middle against the Tigers and says the signing of another playmaker in Blake Green is a positive, not a negative for him.
"He's played in some great teams. He's played at Melbourne and played at Manly so it's only going to help us and the depth in our squad when he is here, especially as a young fella," he said.
"He's been a massive leader in that Warriors team."
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