Playing for Manly last year in a trial match, Brent Kite took one look at Sydney Roosters prop Sam Moa and sized him up as an easy target.

Kite didn't recognise the stocky front-rower and figured he was a rookie ripe for the picking.

But one hit-up in, and Kite's ribs discovered he was hugely mistaken.

Moa hadn't been in nappies, but in the north of England building a reputation as a noted hard man after leaving Cronulla after just one game in 2008.


Kite now props up the Penrith scrum, and the veteran fully appreciates the up-front battle he faces against Moa - as the Panthers look to prove their credentials against the defending premier Roosters today at Allianz Stadium.

Eighteen months on from their first encounter, Kite says he rates 27-year-old Moa as a new benchmark for NRL props.

But in a Tongan representative camp last year, Kite felt he had to make a sheepish confession to his countryman.

"I got caught out with Sam because when he came back to Australia he had a trial game last year and for some reason I thought he was a young kid," Kite recalls.

"I kept running at him thinking he might be an easy target. But I soon found out he's one of the real tough hitters and one of the great ball runners in the game today.

"I told him that at a Tongan camp and he had a chuckle."

Moa has since transferred his allegiance to New Zealand and was outstanding in New Zealand's narrow loss to Australia in the May test.

The Roosters have fallen in a hole of late and retreated to the Central Coast last week for a soul-searching camp after their last-start capitulation against Cronulla.


But while aspects of their attack haven't been working, there's no doubting the Roosters' ability to get up the field.

And Moa and another former teammate of Kite's - Jared Waerea-Hargreaves - are then most responsible for the go forward.

Penrith's pack is hard-working and versatile, but struggled against the monster Warriors forwards in round 16. They'll have their work cut out again in the middle against the Roosters.

"They're a big physical pack and outside of that they throw a lot at you all over the park," said Kite.

"Sign of a real good team.

"I've known Jared since he was a kid at Manly and respect his game also. It will be tough to shut those fellas down."