Greg Prichard,, NRL.com
Sydney Roosters five-eighth James Maloney will be trying to prevent a personal run of outs at Eden Park from stretching to three games when he returns there for Saturday night's game against the Warriors.
“I'm none from two at Eden Park,” Maloney told NRL.com. “While I was at the Warriors I played twice there – against Manly last season and Parramatta the year before – and we lost both. I'm hoping my old team's record there continues and mine changes.”
Both of those games were in the first round. The Sea Eagles won 26-20 and the Eels 24-18. Maloney had three seasons at the Warriors, but they didn't play a game at Eden Park in 2010.
The management of the Warriors switched this game to Eden Park instead of playing it at the usual, but much smaller, Mt Smart Stadium in anticipation of a big crowd gathering to watch Sonny Bill Williams.
After enjoying success in his switch to rugby union – and spending most of that period of his football life playing in New Zealand – Williams is bound to be a big drawcard. And he will get plenty of game time, having been promoted to the starting side for the Roosters after playing off the bench in the 28-10 loss to South Sydney in the opening round.
Maloney said that Williams being in the starting side coupled with another of the club's off-season signings – Luke O'Donnell – making his debut from the interchange bench gave the Roosters a feeling of added strength going into this game.
“Luke is an experienced head and a very strong defender,” Maloney said. “He'll add stability to the side. And Sonny will be a lot better off for his run against Souths. I thought he went well in his first game back in league, and he'll only improve from here.”
Maloney said that while it hurt to lose in their start to the season, the Roosters had risen from the canvas pretty quickly at training and were approaching the clash with the Warriors in a confident frame of mind.
“It certainly hasn't been all gloom and doom, or anything like that,” he said. “We took a few lessons out of the game, and identified a few areas in which we have to improve, but there were some good signs as well for us in that game.
“It was only Round 1, and overall we weren't far off from what we were trying to do. There were a few opportunities we missed, which could have made a difference.
“We thought we had played really well in the first 15 minutes, and were controlling the game to that point, but after that we weren't able to come out of our own half often enough to apply real pressure.
“We made too many fundamental errors and gave away too many silly penalties, and you can't do that against Souths. They're a very good side. They were right up there in the finals last season and we knew it would be tough against them.
“They don't give you much. They play for 80 minutes, and keep the intensity up. They play a pretty standard sort of game very well, and that's something we need to take from that game. We need to be able to get into the grind and come out of it on top."
Maloney said that after all of the hype in the lead-up to the game against Souths, it had been good to prepare for the Warriors game under considerably less of a spotlight.
“We've been able to get in some really good training,” he said. "The main thing, for me, as one of the new players in the side, is that I've now played one game with the Roosters under premiership conditions and I can start building on that.
“I can take some experience from that game and start building on combinations against the Warriors. It will be an opportunity for a few players in our side to do that.”
The Warriors were thrashed 40-10 on the road against Parramattain in the first round, but Maloney says the Roosters are ignoring that result.
“We can't afford to read too much into that,” he said. “The Warriors will be a completely different side at home.”