Sport Comment: Why Maloney is key man for the Blues in this Origin series

16:30  05 july  2018
16:30  05 july  2018 Source:   smh.com.au

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View comments . The NSW Blues ended years of heartbreak and won their second State Of Origin series in 13 years The second was a penalty try awarded to Blues skipper Boyd Cordner in the 31st minute when he was taken out by Maroons halffack Ben Hunt while chasing a James Maloney grubber.

Video provided by AAP 

When Phil Gould was asked on Twitter this week about which player had been the most inspirational for the Blues this series, he praised Damien Cook and James Tedesco, but declared: "James Maloney has been key."

There have been no shortage of heroes for the Blues, with Tedesco the man of the match at the MCG and a tough Boyd Cordner claiming the award in Sydney.

The Brad Fittler Medal - the best Blues player of the series - could have as many as 17 genuine contenders for the first time.

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So it was quite the rap for Maloney when given the tick by NSW's most successful coach.

"Tell him I said he is the key man. He will tell you why," Penrith general manager Gould said when asked to elaborate on his choice.

The Herald put Gould's assessment to the man himself on Thursday.

"It's nice to get compliments rather than get bagged ... although he is my boss [at Penrith]. I don't know, maybe I am the key," Maloney said with a smile after training.

"I know my role in this side, I've tried to do it, and I think I've done it pretty well.

"Being the senior playmaker in this side, with that comes a lot of extra responsibility in key moments, and overall we've performed pretty well in those moments. Maybe that's what he's on about.

"He's a guy who knows footy really well. I do enjoy having him out there [at Penrith] talking about footy.

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  Maloney's boot proves crucial for Blues James Maloney's kicking has proven the difference in NSW's drought-breaking State of Origin series win. But James Maloney has revealed he now works on his kicking less than he has at any point in his career.While it went largely unnoticed, Maloney's three-from-three conversion attempts ultimately proved the difference in the Blues' 18-14 game two victory.Both sides scored three tries, however, Queensland's Valentine Holmes struggled with his three attempts out wide, potting just one.

NSW insist there’s a simple reason why Billy Slater’s late withdrawal won’t change their game plan for Wednesday LIVE stream the State of Origin Series LIVE and on-demand from overseas. But the Blues , through Maloney , refused to take the chance to pile further pressure on Queensland on

That obviously didn't apply to James Maloney , who the rugby league community have pencilled in to play for the Blues in this year's State of Origin series . If you're not completely confident that you're delivering that in clubland as a player, it is a huge step up to expect that from a young man in Origin ."

"He gives a different perspective to other people I've heard. I've enjoyed talking to different people and understanding different mindsets around footy, so when he's around, you'd be stupid not to pick his brain."

Leading the way: James Maloney has been a driving force behind the Blues' success. © AAP Leading the way: James Maloney has been a driving force behind the Blues' success. If Maloney was not the most influential in the opening two matches, he said there were no shortage of players who had starred.

Tedesco was brilliant in attack and defence, he said, while captain "Boydo leads by example and that's why he's our skipper".

"It's hard to nail someone down. The more I think about it, I think of all these different blokes," Maloney said.

The oldest member of the side, Maloney was not guaranteed his No.6 jersey before the series because of coach Fittler's concerns over his defence in the weeks leading up to team selection.

But the larrikin playmaker has done a tremendous job taking the heat off his Penrith teammate and 20-year-old rookie halfback Nathan Cleary, especially late in both games.

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Veteran five-eighth James Maloney admits the Blues lost their way in State of Origin II. (AAP). The Blues have lost the past six Origin deciders dating back to the beginning of the Maroons reign in 2006, Thurston's second series in the interstate South Australia votes: The three man race to the top.

He has done most of the kicking and defensively botched just seven tackles in two games, four less than Queensland opposite Cameron Munster.

Maloney is the big reason his new team Penrith are so far up the ladder, especially taking into account that Cleary broke down with a knee injury in round three.

While no stranger to Suncorp Stadium, Maloney, now 32, has no interest in making next Wednesday his Origin swansong, and if all goes to script he will have two years in the NRL - and Blues - before he retires or entertains the Super League.

A possible seven more Origin games alongside Cleary had a nice ring to it, said Maloney.

"I enjoy this. It definitely takes its toll, but you wouldn't give this away, or I won't anyway," Maloney said.

"They'll be dropping me before I say 'don't pick me'.

"I've still got another two years at Penrith, and I'd say that will finish me off in the NRL. If the body is all right I might try to go overseas.

"But if I've got another two years and my footy is alright I'll be stoked. Nathan has probably got another 57 games for NSW in him, so hopefully in those [potential] last seven games I can teach him something and he can be the Blues' Cameron Smith."

Maloney said the trek to Suncorp was always enjoyable, and while running out to a sea of NSW fans at ANZ Stadium was impossible to top, the atmosphere up north needed to be soaked up before kick-off.

NSW Blues Origin stars ready for NRL push .
Nine members of NSW's State of Origin-winning squad are part of three Sydney teams making the running in the NRL premiership.NSW teams occupy five of the top six spots on the NRL ladder, with 15 of the 19 Blues used across the series in the playing for cluba in the top six.

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