Maloney embracing playmaker role
New South Wales have used 16 individual halves in the past 10 State of Origin series.
It's a damning stat and perhaps an insight into the Blues' woes over the past decade but James Maloney is ready to now make this team his own.
Maloney will line up for his sixth Origin game next week and will carry the burden of his state's fortunes for the very first time.
Adam Reynolds' withdrawal on Wednesday means the playmaking and kicking duties are now Maloney's responsibility with usual centre Jack Bird and fullback Matt Moylan set to join the Sharks five-eighth in the halves at different stages.
Maloney said he wouldn't let the pressure cooker of Origin burn him out as he prepares to take control at the Blues' remaining training sessions.
"My room is falling apart. I lost Moylan, lost Reyno then Moylan comes back," Maloney laughed.
"But we really want to nail everything down soon and have it all nutted out so by the weekend we can have two really good sessions together.
"It's a bit of a challenge, another spanner in the works, but it is what it is. We have to make the most of every minute out here (at Origin camp) and make sure we do it really well.
"There's more responsibility on my shoulders now which I'll have to deal with. It's not something new to me. I've been in sides before where I've had to be in control and run things around.
"It gives you a bit of ownership about things but also the result rests on your shoulders which is a good thing too I suppose."
Bird is tipped to start ahead of Moylan in the playmaker role, which suits Maloney considering the Sharks duo see each other most days and have teamed up in the halves in the Country Origin team for the past two years.
Maloney didn't shy away from the difficulties facing Bird in his first run-on appearance for NSW, but said the 21-year-old's natural confidence did work in his favour.
"I don't think he knows what's going on half the time so it's hard to be scared or afraid of stuff you have no idea about. So that helps," Maloney laughed.
"He doesn't get overawed, Jack, but he probably needs to know a bit more in the halves so we'll have to make sure he's across that.
"He backs himself and plays what he sees. It's not that he doesn't think as such, he's aware of what's going on but he's just a little bit of spacey to go with it.
"It's his natural instinct that shines through. He's young, he's full of confidence and he's just a footballer. He won't be pigeonholed."