Maloney Ori­gin bid at risk over tackle woes

The West Australian - - SPORT - Ben Glover Sydney

NSW se­lec­tion ad­viser Greg Alexan­der has con­firmed James Maloney is in dan­ger of los­ing his Blues jer­sey de­spite a dominant first sea­son for Pen­rith that has lifted his new club to sec­ond on the lad­der.

Maloney was thought to be a lock for one of two NSW halves jer­seys given his form and the lack of al­ter­na­tives until it was re­vealed that new coach Brad Fit­tler wasn’t con­vinced of his claims.

The in­cum­bent Blues No.6 has been su­perb in at­tack this sea­son, but his de­fen­sive num­bers are de­plorable and Alexan­der said that was the key rea­son Fit­tler was look­ing else­where.

Maloney has missed 62 tack­les in 2018 to be the clear com­pe­ti­tion leader in that sta­tis­ti­cal cat­e­gory and botched 12 tack­les in an alarm­ing per­for­mance against the Bull­dogs.

It’s a flaw in the vet­eran’s game that has opened the door for Mitchell Moses, de­spite the dis­as­trous sea­son his club side Par­ra­matta are hav­ing with the 23-year-old pulling the strings.

Alexan­der said the ball was in Maloney’s court.

“He’s strug­gling de­fen­sively and I know Freddy (Fit­tler) sees that as a pretty im­por­tant com­po­nent of what his halves are able to do,” he said.

“I just think it’s about at­ti­tude and de­ci­sion mak­ing and hope­fully Jimmy can come up with the right ones be­cause he’s shown that he’s suited to Ori­gin footy.

“I sus­pect that we’ll pick this side on form, it’s a chance for a pretty fresh start. I think there’ll be a num­ber of play­ers who haven’t played Ori­gin be­fore and I think Maloney’s ex­pe­ri­ence could be very im­por­tant.”

If Maloney fails to re­spond, it will leave the likes of Moses, Nathan Cleary and Luke Keary fight­ing it out for the No.6 and No.7 jer­seys.

Picture: Bradley Ka­naris/Getty Images

Brisbane hooker Andrew Mc­Cul­lough is in the mix to re­place Cameron Smith in Queens­land’s Ori­gin side.

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