Maroons key man Johnathan Thurston is the best because of his consistency in winning little moments rather than because he does things no-one else can do, according to Blues playmaker James Maloney.
Pressed about the challenge in numbering up against one of, if not the, best players of the current generation, Maloney said Thurston is still just another player – albeit one who is the best there is at punishing opposing players for their mistakes.
"He's a very good player, it's not that he's untouchable or something, he just does the things that everyone else does really well more consistently," Maloney said.
"It's not that he does these things no-one else can do. He competes and he puts himself in the picture to make the play over and over again and he waits for you to take a wrong option and he takes the right one when you do.
"You've got to be good but it's not like he's completely out of reach or so far above everyone, he just does the things everyone else does a little bit better and a little bit more consistently."
Maloney had no shortage of praise for the list of features that make Thurston so tough to face off against, however.
"He's obviously very fit, he doesn't stop, he plays both sides of the field, if he sees an opportunity pop up he'll make a fair run from a fair way away to take an opportunity and have a crack at it," Maloney said.
"I think he just reads the game really well and as I said as the game goes on and guys get tired and more fatigued he puts questions to you and makes you make decisions and if you make the wrong one then you're in trouble. It's just something you've got to be on top of for 80 minutes."
Maloney does go into Origin II against Thurston with the mental advantage of having defeated the Cowboys maestro in a last-start 13-10 victory over the Cowboys when Maloney's Sharks won their 10th straight NRL game on Monday night leading into the pivotal second Origin clash.
"It helps. There's a few guys in that side we're going to come up against. As I said, that goes to show what I was saying before, they're not ridiculously out of reach of everyone and you can contain guys like that so it's good for the confidence," Maloney said.