Maloney seen as a saviour for the Blues

The West Australian - - SPORT - STEVE ZEMEK

Jimmy’s prob­a­bly one of the most in­flu­en­tial play­ers... When he’s on, most of the team is on.

NSW State of Ori­gin play­maker Nathan Cleary has given Pen­rith team­mate James Maloney a ring­ing en­dorse­ment, de­scrib­ing him as the ul­ti­mate big-game player and one of the NRL’s most in­flu­en­tial stars.

It sets the stage for a mouth­wa­ter­ing head-to-head bat­tle be­tween South Syd­ney’s Cody Walker and Maloney when their NRL sides clash at ANZ Sta­dium on Satur­day af­ter­noon, dur­ing which the Blues No.6 jumper will be on the line.

Af­ter Cleary and Walker failed to get the job done in NSW’s 18-14 Ori­gin I loss to Queensland, the Rab­bitohs five-eighth’s po­si­tion is un­cer­tain es­pe­cially af­ter he was benched mid­way through the sec­ond half at Sun­corp Sta­dium.

De­spite guid­ing NSW to a rare ti­tle win last year, Maloney was over­looked for the se­ries opener be­cause of his lack­lus­tre start to 2019.

How­ever, he re­bounded in re­sound­ing fash­ion in the Pan­thers’ 19-10 win over the Syd­ney Roost­ers last week dur­ing which he came up with three try as­sists and seem­ingly ev­ery­thing he touched turned to gold. “Jimmy was just on fire on the week­end, he was ev­ery­where,” Cleary said.

“I love play­ing along­side Jimmy when he’s like that.

“It shows with the team as well. Jimmy’s prob­a­bly one of the most in­flu­en­tial play­ers in the comp. When he’s on, most of the team is on.”

Wher­ever Maloney has gone in his ca­reer, suc­cess has fol­lowed.

He helped the War­riors to a grand fi­nal be­fore win­ning pre­mier­ships with the Roost­ers and Cronulla.

Cleary praised Walker, say­ing their com­bi­na­tion would only grow if they were given more time to­gether, but said Maloney was ready-made for Ori­gin.

“Jimmy is a big-game player and he’s shown that all through­out his ca­reer, semi­fi­nals, grand finals, Ori­gins, he al­ways plays well in those big games,” Cleary said.

“When­ever he’s given the op­por­tu­nity to play in a big game, he’ll never let you down.”

The Blues will have three train­ing ses­sions for Ori­gin II , to be played at Op­tus Sta­dium in Perth, with a light cap­tain’s run on game eve.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Pen­rith’s James Maloney makes a point to his team­mates dur­ing their big loss to the New Zealand War­riors last month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.