A year such as the one James Maloney enjoyed during the premiership winning season of 2016 was always going to be difficult to emulate, however it wasn’t due to a lack of effort, with the Sharks five eighth again the focal point of his teams’ attack in 2017.
Selected for the Kangaroos at the end of last season, Maloney was chosen for all three games in this year’s Origin series in an indication of his standing amongst the halves and five eighths in the NRL competition.
When Maloney played well, the Sharks played well, with his skilful touches and acceleration off the mark giving opposition defences plenty of headaches during the year.
Often earned the wrath of the referees, most notably with his sin-binning in the finals clash against the Cowboys, but his effort and determination to succeed could never be questioned.
A chance of being a part of the Australian World Cup squad, then after that it’s anyone’s guess. Speculation surrounds his future, however he is contracted to the Sharks, intends honouring his contract, with a fit and firing Maloney crucial to the Sharks chances in 2018.
Season highlight: It wasn’t a game where he made line breaks, set up numerous tries or put on one of his sparkling attacking displays, however when the Sharks beat the Storm in horrible weather down in Melbourne, Maloney displayed will to win, mental toughness and determination. His competitive instincts came to the fore as the Sharks inflicted an 11-2 defeat on the Storm, with Maloney defending stoutly, kicking the field goal to put his team up 3-2 and icing the game with a penalty goal in the dying moments. It wasn’t typical Maloney but it was possibly his standout performance of 2017.
2017 Stats: James Maloney
Games played: 20
Penalty goals: 14
Field goals: 3
Kick metres: 2515
Run Metres: 1440
Line breaks: 7
Try assists: 12