Maloney absence still felt at Roosters
The Roosters admit they have missed former five-eighth James Maloney this season but will be out to stop him when they face Maloney's Sharks on Saturday night.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has used Jayden Nikorima, Aidan Guerra, Jackson Hastings, Ryan Matterson and Connor Watson at five-eighth this year, having only found recent success with Watson in the past six weeks.
Maloney's former halves partner Mitchell Pearce described his old teammates as "a super player" who had played a massive role in Cronulla's high-quality season to date.
"He was always going to be a big loss, him and Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck]," Pearce said.
"Not having a stable combination all year with me being out with the suspension and having our younger guys in hasn't helped either.
"Jimmy's a competitor and won't go away. No matter the score, he keeps throwing questions at you. And they'll be hungry this week, they'll be clinical and very aggressive, and they love playing down at Cronulla.
"I still talk to Jimmy a fair bit. He was one of New South Wales' best this year and he was really dominant in that arena, he handled himself really well.
"He's taken Cronulla to a top-four spot this season, so there must be something good about him," he said with a laugh.
Watson was rewarded with his first starting berth against the Sharks back in Round 19 and directly opposed Maloney.
While the two never managed to play together, Watson credited Maloney for furthering his development in previous years.
"We play a similar style of footy, Jim and I. I used to watch him at training, and I still do watch a bit of him and the way he plays," Watson said.
"Obviously I'm still learning in this position and he's one of the best five-eighths in the game. So I watch the way he gets around the park, where he supports and when he steps up.
"I'm still learning stuff off him now even though he's not at the club."
While the Sharks produced a record-breaking winning run between Rounds 4 and 20 this season, they have struggled of late with a four-game winless streak.
The Sharks do have a strong record against the Roosters though, winning five of the past six games between the teams, and Pearce remains intent on not only changing that but extending the Roosters' own two-game winning streak.
"Sometimes teams can drop of a bit when they've been so dominant. It could be a scary thing [for us] but it could also be a worry for them. We have to make it a worry," Pearce said.
"We've known we can't make the eight for about six to eight weeks, so we've done well not dwelling on the past or worrying much about what could have been.
"We're more focused on being the best we can be and building to next year. If we can finish with good form and build combinations right now, it will only help."
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