James Maloney has proven to be a big-game player since his emergence with the Warriors in 2011 and his performance in Game II typified that reputation to a tee.
He made a welcome return to the State of Origin arena in Game II and was crucial in helping the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues claim historic back-to-back series wins.
At club-level, Maloney was the glue that held the Penrith Panthers together during a turbulent year that had them finish 10that the end of the regular season.
Maloney now ventures to the Catalan Dragons to cap off a stellar Rugby League career that will have him remembered as being one of the smallest in stature – yet one with all heart and soul, two premiership rings and Origin series victories to his name.
SEASON HIGHLIGHT v New Zealand Warriors– 19-18 W
In hindsight, it wasn’t the mid-season resurgence that ignited a finals berth for the Penrith Panthers but at the time it was exactly what they needed and it was Maloney at the thick of it all.
After trumping the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs in consecutive weeks – all within a four-game winning streak, Maloney returned from Origin to engineer an almighty comeback victory against the Warriors.
The Panthers overcame a 16-6 deficit in the second-half, and two sin-bins on either side of the break, as Maloney nailed his second consecutive game-winning field-goal.
He also recorded two-try assists in an incredible performance to steer the Panthers to their fifth win in a row.
REPRESENTATIVE HIGHLIGHT – State of Origin Game III – 38-6 W
Called upon by Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler for a do-or-die game in Perth, Maloney came to the fore with some game-defining plays to send the series to a decider in Sydney.
In the first-half alone, Maloney laid on two tries before nailing a 40/20 to keep the pressure on Queensland throughout the early exchanges.
His first assist was a towering bomb for Tom Trbojevic before laying on a deft pass for a charging Tyson Frizell close to the line.
His experience and composure was never in doubt and his influence proved more telling when Nathan Cleary failed to return from an ankle injury and formed a seamless combination with Wade Graham to ignite a relenltess second-half raid.
Maloney’s decision to join the Catalan Dragons was a significant career move and marks a new venture for he and his family.
Maloney inked a three-year deal with the Super League club – ending a wonderful career in the NRL that spanned 11 seasons.
It’s undoubtedly a golden opportunity to play out his career on the other side of the world in France and one the Maloney clan will relish on and off the field.