He’s the most senior player at Belmore this year, but for Bulldogs captain Ray Moujalli, off-field work is just as important.
Of the 38 players named in NRL and Intrust Super Premiership NSW squads this year, 32-year-old Moujalli is the oldest – and as reported in the Bulldogs’ season preview, will be vital to the club’s chances in the lower grade. While his teammates have been busy preparing for the hard slog of another Rugby League season at Belmore Sports Ground, however, the veteran front-rower has been doing training of a different kind just down the road, running a successful local personal training business.
One of the most experienced players at Intrust Super Premiership NSW level, Moujalli has long dealt with the struggle of balancing football commitments with full-time work, but believes this off season has been one of the toughest yet.
“It’s been hard this year,” Moujalli tells NSWRL.com.au. “I just got married recently as well, so I’m just trying to juggle being married and working with my own little business that I’ve been running on the side.
“I’ve been trying to slow work down now because work’s been a bit hectic in the off season. Now I’m trying to focus on footy a bit more… it’s been a tough balance.”
Working at Canterbury Leagues Club while running his own business on the side, life has been jam-packed for Moujalli of late, but he’s excited to soon return to the job he enjoys the most: playing football.
“It’s gone really fast actually, a lot faster than I thought it would,” Moujalli adds. “I’m just really excited for the season.”
Now onto his second stint at the Bulldogs, Moujalli could be described as a Rugby League journeyman; he has spent significant time at the Newtown Jets, along with seasons at Manly, South Sydney, Cronulla and the Roosters. The 11-time Lebanon international by now knows what to look for in a new playing group and he singled out the Bulldogs’ new halves combination as an exciting piece of the puzzle.
“I’m looking to seeing young ‘Frawls’ [Matt Frawley] step up this year,” Moujalli says. “He was good for us last year, so I think he’s really one to watch; he’s got more experience on his hands too.
“[Josh] Cleeland as well – I watched him play on the weekend and he’s really good. Having a good set of halves is going to be big for us.”
Canterbury-Bankstown could be a surprise packet in this year’s competition but with Moujalli leading from the front, will have the experience needed to be a serious contender.