The fresh perspective of True Blue James Maloney is what captured the attention of the North Queensland Cowboys as they searched for a new NRL assistant coach for the 2024 season.
Maloney begins working with the players on Monday, adding his name to the list of True Blues moving more deeply into the coaching arena.
His former Cronulla-Sutherland teammate, and True Blue from 2009-2015, Michael Ennis is now an NRL assistant at Manly Warringah for next year. He’s already worked on the coaching staff at the Sharks, Canberra Raiders and Parramatta Eels following his retirement.
Brett Morris, a veteran of 15 Origins for NSW (2010-2017), has been appointed coach of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup side at the Sydney Roosters.
Former Mounties NSW Cup coach and dual Dally M Medal winner, Mick Potter who played in the 1984 Origin series, will be the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NSW Cup coach. He was Bulldogs NRL assistant this year.
Maloney comes to the Cowboys after two years playing with Les Catalans in Super League. He then moved into a player-coach role with Lezignan in the French Elite One competition.
That all followed a glittering 247-game career in the NRL for two premierships, 14 Origins - including the 2018-2019 series wins - and three Tests for Australia. He retired in 2021.
“We talked to a number of assistant coaches … and had come to an agreement with (former NSW Origin assistant) Paul McGregor a while ago but due to personal reasons he now has to remain in Wollongong,” Cowboys General Manager of Football, Micheal Luck told nswrl.com.au
“Then we changed tack and opened our minds to someone who might bring something a little different as they weren’t an established coach.
“We talked to a few guys and when Jimmy came to Townsville to speak with us, we asked him to pull apart a few games and present how he would do the game plan for the next week.
“We really enjoyed the perspective he brought and the way he delivered his messages.
“Assistant coaches need to be able to connect with players as you’re probably closer to them then the head coach is.
“So, we’re really thrilled he’s come across our radar. I’m looking forward to the energy he’s going to bring to this group.”
Luck spent four years playing alongside Maloney with the Warriors in Auckland, where he saw first-hand his expertise as a half and vital member of the attacking spine.
“He ticked a lot of boxes having a lot of success playing in those positions and doing a lot of game planning for oppositions in those positions, as well as being an accomplished kicker in general play,” Luck said.
Maloney will be working under head coach Todd Payten and alongside fellow assistants Justin Morgan and Ben Rauter.
Luck said there were no concerns about a True Blue working deep in Maroons country.
“If you look across our coaching department we don’t have many Queenslanders,” Luck said. “He’s the right person for the job – don’t care where he’s from.”