Dan Walsh, Staff Writer, NRL.com
Roosters five-eighth James Maloney has vowed to reclaim the NSW Origin jumper he wore this time last year, though admits he will probably have to wait until 2015 to get another shot in the sky blue.
One year ago it was Maloney who was preparing for the game of his life as Laurie Daley's squad travelled to Suncorp in a bid to end the Maroons' recent domination of the interstate clash, but next Wednesday the 27-year-old will be watching from the comfort of his own lounge room as the Blues get their best chance to claim a first series win in almost a decade.
With Bulldogs duo Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson leading the Blues to a famous 12-8 victory in Game One after being preferred over incumbents Maloney and Roosters teammate Mitch Pearce, Maloney doesn't see himself getting another crack at the Queenslanders this year but is determined to return to the interstate arena in the future.
"It's a goal to get back there, but it probably won't happen this year," said Maloney.
"I probably wasn't playing the sort of footy that Josh and [Hodkinson] were, and they're doing a good job... so I don't think they'll change too much.
"I'm looking forward to next Wednesday night watching at home and hoping they get the job done.
"It hurts not to be there. Everyone wants to play State of Origin football but that's not the case so there's no point dwelling on it."
Despite Daley's open preference for club combinations when it came to choosing his NSW halves pairing, Maloney refused to blame club mate Pearce's dumping for disciplinary reasons for his own axing from the state side, citing his own slow start to the year as the main reason for his representative demise.
"I think if I was playing the right sort of football it wouldn't have made any difference, so I don't think that mattered at all," said Maloney.
"The combination, that's something that's obviously helpful but I've got no doubts that if I was playing really good football that I'd be a big chance of being there again."
Maloney, who also revealed Daley had called him the day before the squad for Origin I was announced to "let me know where I stood", will line up for the Roosters this Saturday night against the Knights as the Tricolours bid for a seventh win in eight starts – a run that has seen the premiers move back into the top four for the first time since Round 3.
The last time the two clubs clashed was for a spot in the 2013 Grand Final, and despite the embattled Newcastle club enjoying just two wins since, Maloney said the Roosters could not afford to take the Knights lightly before the premiers enjoy their first bye of the year in Round 15.
"I think this year the table's pretty congested and I think that's the nature of the NRL; it doesn't matter where a side's sitting, they can still do you if you're a little bit off.
"So that's something we've got to be focused on this week against Newcastle; it's an important game.
"We've built a real solid foundation here over the last month and to go into the bye the week after it'd definitely be handy to go in with another two points."