Edwards welcomes Maloney arrival
Dylan Edwards is out to create his own legacy at the Penrith Panthers and feels no pressure in the task of replacing Matt Moylan.
A week is a long time in rugby league, let alone a year, but 2017 couldn't have panned out any better for Edwards with a series of departures paving the way for the Dorrigo junior to lift to greater heights and take the Panthers into a new era.
Just 12 months ago the 21-year-old entered pre-season training with more than six players ahead of him across the backline.
International trio Josh Mansour, Dean Whare and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak were battling injuries over the pre-season while Peta Hiku and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak's mid-season departures quickly elevated Edwards's sudden rise in the squad.
The final boost came when the Panthers and Moylan announced they were parting ways at the end of the season, allowing Edwards to focus on making the No.1 jersey his own as he signed a long-term contract extension.
"The year went a lot better than I originally planned," Edwards told NRL.com.
"I didn't expect to play any first grade with Moyza (Moylan) there. It was a hard path to get through. I've had a lot of things go my way."
And with that he has gained a new-found confidence towards teammates, the media and fans on the back of 16 appearances in 2017.
Usually a quiet character around camp, Edwards has welcomed a new side to his game – a more vocal approach.
"I used to be pretty nervous talking but feel I am more confident now with people," Edwards said.
"I've grown, if anything I probably talk too much now. Whether that has come from being around the boys or settling into grade … maybe a combination."
So much so, Edwards said he never hesitated to contact Moylan after news broke about the former Panthers skipper heading to the Sutherland Shire.
"It was bittersweet to see him go but I sent him a text and said good luck with everything," Edwards said.
"He wished me well and said if I ever needed him to let him know. He's a good mate of mine so it was nice of him to say those words.
"The club has shown faith in me and hopefully I can repay the favour by putting my best foot forward. I'm working on some weaknesses – passing game, last defence and figuring out my lines – things like that.
"I don't feel any extra pressure though. The coaching staff certainly don't add any pressure to be like him. I'm not Matt Moylan."
In return, the Panthers have lured Sharks five-eighth James Maloney to the club, a player Edwards was confident would quickly develop an explosive combination with Nathan Cleary.
With injured utility Tyrone May set to miss the opening rounds of the season, the acquisition of Maloney is a huge boost to a squad that will enter the new year with less scrutiny after being dubbed title favourites before a ball was kicked in 2017.
"He'll bring massive experience and a presence, every club he's been to has brought success," Edwards said of Maloney.
"He's played Origin and for Australia. Having someone that's done everything in big situations we just have to draw off all his knowledge.
"I'm looking forward to having him and Wal (Peter Wallace) to learn from, and we all know Nath (Cleary) and what he can do. Hopefully we all stay fit."