Maloney refocuses for contract year
Premiership-winning Roosters five-eighth James Maloney is off contract at the end of 2015, and he says with negotiations not yet underway he'll be looking for a big year on field to boost his prospects.
The 28-year-old also freely admitted that losing his Origin spot "definitely hurt" and that with NSW having finally won a series, he could face an uphill battle to force his way back into a winning team, as much as he'd love to be there again in 2015.
Maloney said the Roosters' early exit from the 2014 finals series would serve as added motivation for the entire 2015 squad.
"I'm off [contract] at the end of this year. I don't think we've actually started [negotiating] – we might have to try and start soon to sort it out," Maloney said at the official launch of the 2015 Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines.
He said his first preference would be to stay at Bondi but was hopeful there would be plenty of interest in his signature.
"I'm happy at the Roosters and I'd love to stay but I think there are a lot of boys off contract - we'll just have to wait and see how it pans out... if you're in good form at the right time it helps if it's contract time."
Maloney's omission from the 2014 NSW squad looked to be partly due to a dip in his own form and partly collateral damage when his club halves partner Mitchell Pearce was dropped after an incident in Kings Cross, and he conceded with Bulldogs halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds playing their part in a series win it would be tough to get back in the side.
"Obviously it hurts [getting dropped]. Everyone wants to play Origin; once you've had a go at it the hunger to just keep doing is obviously there," he said.
"I'd love to [get back there] but whether it happens – the odds of them changing a winning side is probably not great. All I can do is rip in and make sure I'm playing good footy."
The immediate goal, Maloney said, would be for the Roosters to put in a good pre-season and start the next season strongly.
"First and foremost I've just got to start the season off really well, hit the ground running with the Roosters and make sure I'm doing a really good job for them and see what happens off the back of that. That'll be my first focus," he said.
"[Pre-season has] been pretty solid, I suppose like everyone at this time of the year. We've got to get the [kilometres] back in the legs and get the fitness back up, just plugging away there, trying to work on a few little subtleties in the game to try and improve as well.
"Obviously the way it finished last year was a bit disappointing. It's definitely a bit of motivation, everyone's training well at the moment which is a good sign."
While the club's Four Nations representatives are still on an extended break, all the players currently on deck are ripping in, Maloney said, noting they'd learned it is even harder to defend a premiership than to win one.
"Yeah, 100 per cent it is, he said.
"We don't have to do that this year which is nice! Hopefully we can be back up there somewhere.
"Defending a title, everyone books you in on the draw and they're all up for that week. It's hard for you to stay up 24 games a year. That definitely takes its toll, I suppose early that's something we learnt but there's still no shying away from the way we went out – the end was a bit disappointing. There's a bit of motivation there."