Leota to wipe quiet achiever tag ahead of promotion

Moses Leota usually enjoys every part of being a quiet achiever in the NRL, but even the Panthers enforcer knows his job description is going to change in 2021.

The Panthers will turn to Leota to beef up the side's starting pack following the departures of 267-game veteran James Tamou, new Bulldog Jack Hetherington and Super League-bound Zane Tetevano in the off-season.

While Leota isn't on his front-row partner James Fisher-Harris's level of quietness around the group, he's also a player that likes to keep to himself off the paddock.

The usually silent Fisher-Harris was mic'd up by Panthers coach Ivan Cleary during a game in 2019 in a bid to see how much he spoke on the field.

It has never quite got to that stage with Leota, but a dancing video posted by the club before last year's grand final showed a glimpse into how popular he was amongst his teammates.

"I'm happy to stay the quiet achiever but I'm one of the older guys now so I need to step into some more leadership and show some of the younger boys the way," Leota told NRL.com.

"I just like keep to myself and when I have to talk I will. If I'm doing something wrong Ivan will pull me aside and I'll go from there.

"I like to keep it simple but the boys like to gee me up and get me of out of my comfort zone sometimes."

In a strong resume for Leota, the 25-year-old has started 17 times during his 81-game career at the club for a 13-4 win ratio.

"The big difference between starting and coming off the bench is you're not the only one with energy on the field," Leota said.

"It's constantly fast, the first 20 minutes… you're not coming on fresh when everyone is already 20 minutes into the game. That's the challenge, and to do it every week.

"Most of the competition have their best forwards up front early so you've got to be able to match them."

NRL.com understands the Panthers are in the market for another middle forward to help with depth concerns in the area.

Former Wests Tigers forward Matt Eisenhuth and ex-Shark Scott Sorensen are options for Cleary but the coach otherwise has just Spencer Leniu and Lindsay Smith as specialist props outside of Fisher-Harris and Leota.

The Panthers need to fill a further four spots on their roster by March 1.

"Spencer is a talented kid and has got a big future in the NRL," Leota said.

"He seems quiet too but he talks a lot around the boys and in games. It's good to train alongside young guys who are hungrier than ever before."