Maloney: 'I need to be better'
He starred on debut in the opening game of the series but rookie NSW five-eighth James Maloney says he must perform to a much higher level in Game Two if the Blues are going to perform a smash-and-grab mission at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Roosters playmaker showed no signs of nerves on debut, kicking three goals and making a line-break in a stunning first-half performance as NSW romped to an early 14-0 lead. But he won’t be resting on his laurels in his second Origin outing.
“It was a good start,” Maloney told NRL.com. “I was happy with how I played but I need to improve in Game Two and take it a step further. There are some areas I think I can improve on.
“For the opening hit-out and to know I could play at that level and be confident at that level, it has definitely improved my confidence going into Game Two. It probably helps too having been through an Origin now. I sort of know what it’s all about, having been through it. That can only help with the preparations for this game but it’s going to be a different game up there.
“It will be a pretty volatile atmosphere with a lot of noise and that will make for a great atmosphere but if we want to take charge we’ve got to be ready for that. So for me it’s about knuckling down and improving on what I did in Game One.”
Maloney’s performance three weeks ago was a great sign for the Blues long term, too, with the Roosters playmaker insisting that whatever happens this series, he is only going to get better from being part of the NSW set-up in 2013.
“People always say Origin makes you a better player and I’d like to think that will be the case,” he said.
“The first game back (for the Roosters) I felt a bit flat backing up but I think once Origin is done and dusted and we get back into the routine with the club, I’m sure having that experience is definitely going to help and give me some confidence playing with the Roosters.”
It hasn’t been an easy couple of weeks for the Blues. While their preparations for the series opener couldn’t have gone any smoother, this time they’ve been rocked by injury to star fullback Jarryd Hayne and, more tellingly, off-field indiscretions that have seen both prop James Tamou and winger Blake Ferguson stood down for Game Two.
Hayne’s replacement, Josh Dugan, has also come under fire following his big night out with Ferguson last Sunday week although he will still take his place in the No.1 jersey on Wednesday.
But Maloney insisted those distractions wouldn’t negatively impact upon the Blues’ performance in Game Two.
“Obviously a few things have gone on but that’s been put behind us now and with the calibire of players we’ve got it’s not too much of a distraction,” he said. “At the end of the day we all know what we’ve got to do to prepare and get ourselves ready for 80 minutes at Suncorp.
“We’ve got a few new faces hat have to come in and learn the plays but at the moment with the way we’ve come along, it’s nice being able to hit the training paddock and not have to start from scratch, being able to pick up from where we left off.
“I’ve loved coming back into camp again. Obviously it’s going to be a big build-up. It’s a big game and there is plenty on the line so no doubt there will is plenty going on but it’s still a good environment. Everyone is excited about the game ahead so we’re looking forward to it.”
Key to victory, says Maloney, will be shutting down the Maroons’ lethal backline, but that starts and ends with the forwards and with Queensland giving away a significant weight advantage again in Game Two the 27-year-old is confident the Blues’ big men will get the job done.
“Obviously they’ve got plenty of speed out wide and a top quality backline so hopefully we can win that middle an try and shut down that lethal backline they’ve got,” he said.
“It would be unreal to win up there. It’s been a long time coming and to go up there on their home ground and get the win would be amazing but we’ve still got a big 80 minutes to go before that happens and that’s all we’re focussed on.”