He may have only been at the Sharks for a short time, but what a time it was for James Maloney.
Named in the Team of the Half Century after one year at the club, Maloney beat out a quality field of candidates to win selection at five eighth in the ‘best of’ Sharks team but on the strength of what he delivered in 2016, the year of the clubs first premiership success, his inclusion becomes difficult to argue.
Joining Cronulla from the Roosters at the beginning of the 2016 season Maloney slotted straight into the Sharks systems almost from day one.
By the time Origin rolled around in May, Maloney was the stand out number six in the NRL and almost an automatic choice for the Blues in game one, with his form for the Sharks impossible to ignore.
A goal from the sideline showed his ice cool temperament, beating the Bulldogs on the bell in round 13 as the Sharks, and Maloney, continued to go to new levels.
From there it was onwards and upwards. The 15 game unbeaten streak, two more Origin appearances for Maloney, the Grand Final victory in October, then as some cream on the top the Sharks five eighth would make his international debut representing the Kangaroos on the Four Nations Tour.
While his slight frame doesn’t immediately indicate tough and durable, that is exactly what Maloney is, backed up by the fact he played 25 of 27 games in 2016.
Maloney would also jump Mat Rogers into second place for points scored in a season, with his 219, made up from seven tries, 94 goals and three field goals, trailing just Brett Kimmorley’s tally of 251 from 2002.A major contributor to the Sharks maiden title on the field, a big personality off it, James Maloney enjoyed a standout year in 2016 and we look for more of the same in 2017 and beyond