Troubled Moore has unfinished business at Leeds

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Considering his litany of traumatic personal battles, the ongoing fight to earn a place in Leeds Rhinos’ illustrious first team will hold little trepidation for Richard Moore.

Dragged back from the abyss once before when his promising career nearly disappeared due to a fondness for a drink, the colourful prop has met and overcome bigger obstacles since.

Being diagnosed with the debilitating Crohn’s Disease proved a mighty blow, the rugged front-row losing all of his requisite bulk as a consequence of the inflammatory condition which attacks the digestive system.

But that challenge was met head on and bettered. However, then came any parent’s worst nightmare.

A little over 12 months ago, Moore discovered his young son Harrison was suffering from leukaemia and would need to underdgo intensive chemotherapy.

He is, thankfully, now recovering but such harsh realities bring everything else into focus.

Set against the backdrop of a difficult divorce and then discovering his new Crusaders contract was null and void due to the club’s shock collapse, it is easy to see why the Keighley-born player will not be apoplectic if he fails to make Leeds’s team for the trip to Wigan tomorrow.

When Brian McDermott told Moore last week he had missed the cut for the Hull KR opener, there was a simple acceptance that, given Leeds’s prop calibre – Jamie Peacock, Ryan Bailey, Kylie Leuluai, Ian Kirke and fellow new signing Darrell Griffin – he may just have to wait for his debut.

In his earlier guise, the hot-tempered maverick who liked to lash out first, ask questions later, may have shown his frustrations.

However, now, at the age of 30, he is a different man completely.

It is part of the reason McDermott brought him to Headingley this winter; if all that robust, malevolent energy can be harnessed in a disciplined manner, there are few more destructive props around and the new, matured Richard Moore is seen as a potentially crucial acquisition for the champions.

Ironically, Leeds is where it all began given he was part of their Academy side that nurtured current heroes Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire and Bailey.

“It is nice to be back,” Moore – who instead made his first-team breakthrough at Bradford Bulls in 2002 – told the Yorkshire Post.

“It’s not taken much settling in as I knew quite a lot of guys from when I was first here. I didn’t get a chance back then.

“Dean Lance was the coach and I thought I was playing quite well at the time so I do feel I’ve lots of unfinished business at Leeds.

“Things didn’t work out but I’ve come back matured as a player and person. This is probably the best time to play for this team.”

Moore is all too aware of the challenges ahead but is ready to be patient. “I knew when I signed that there were six players in my position (for four spots) and to come from Crusaders to the champions you’re not going to get in straight away,” he said.

“I just looked at the small picture first – get stuck in to pre-season, get my head down, work hard and when the chance comes, just make sure I take it.

“If it takes me a month or two to get in then fair enough, When my time comes, I’ll take that.”

Potentially starring for the champions is a long way from where Moore was when his career hit a nadir with Leigh.

Moore had struggled to hold down a regular place at Odsal and moved to Leigh for their debut season in Super League in 2005.

However, they were relegated and he soon found himself devoid of inspiration.

“Things didn’t really work out,” Moore admitted. “The fans made me welcome and the lads but I didn’t see eye to eye with the coach (Darren Abram) and probably went out a little too much. I’d dropped out of Super League and started hitting the beer too much. I also got a five-match ban in a friendly so things didn’t even start well that year.

“It ended with me having a chat with my mum. We just discussed how much of an opportunity I was throwing away.

“I ended up having to ring John Kear to ask him for bit of a chance at Wakefield. Thankfully John gave me that shot and he got my career back on track. I still think now if it hadn’t been for John I might now not be playing at all. Instead, I’ve ended up at Leeds.”

Four years with Trinity saw Moore establish himself as a genuine Super League performer and, though the last 12 months have been eventful, he is relishing enhancing his reputation at Headingley.

“Harrison seems to be dealing with his treatment pretty well and is doing okay,” he explained.

“It was just before New Year’s Eve (2010) that we found out and that was hard as I’d just started at Crusaders, was down in Wales and my marriage was rocky too.

“I’m going through a divorce now and it wasn’t an easy time but thankfully he is doing well.

“With the Crohn’s, I usually have two flair-ups a year but didn’t have one last year so that’s under control and I feel fit,” he added.

“I know I’ve matured. I still play aggressive but it’s just about controlling that aggression and I think I’ve sorted that out.

“Sometimes I just saw red and it doesn’t help the team especially playing in this team.

“I have to be smart. We can’t afford to be a man down here.

“I know every game for Leeds is tough. When I’ve played for the lower clubs, Leeds was always the team you wanted to knock off.”

There is a feeling he will get his chance tomorrow as McDermott – who played alongside a young Moore at Bradford – looks to give all his props a show before the World Club Challenge against Manly in a week’s time.

“If I get a run it’ll be a good opportunity,” he added.

“If not I might have to work a bit longer. In the past I’ve probably taken it for granted I’m playing every week but there’s so much competition here I know it’s just going to be a waiting game.

“I do have unfinished business though.”