James Maloney took a crucial intercept and raced away to score a try in the preliminary final.

Success follows Maloney but it's no fluke

Sharks five-eighth James Maloney is preparing for his third Grand Final in six years, at three different clubs, in a spell that has seen him claim three minor premierships and remarkably, feature in five preliminary finals in six seasons.

After his match-winning efforts against North Queensland on Friday night there can be no argument Maloney is the buy of the year.

Speaking after his two-try man-of-the-match performance Maloney, unsurprisingly, wasn't taking personal credit for those team results but suggested he had a knack for spotting a successful roster.

When he learned he did not have the option of staying at the Roosters post 2015, Maloney said Cronulla was an easy first choice as a new club.

"I've been able to identify rosters [although] the Warriors one was not really my choice, it was basically I didn't have a whole lot of options, I was there to get regular first grade," Maloney said.

"I went over there and we had a really successful year [making the 2011 Grand Final]. Coming back to pick the Roosters and to come here and pick the Sharks, I knew what I was going into, I knew the roster they had, I knew the strengths they had in their side.

"As soon as I couldn't stay at the Roosters I wanted to come to Cronulla because I knew what they had here and I thought I could add something and it's worked out really well so far."

It continues a stunning run of success for the 30-year-old former NSW State of Origin pivot, who now has a golden chance to add a second premiership ring to his trophy cabinet when he runs out against either Melbourne or Canberra at ANZ Stadium next Sunday.

Asked if his team could recapture the type of early dominance that helped them crush the Cowboys on Friday night, he said they had no choice.

"The first half… we probably couldn't have gone a whole lot better," Maloney said of a 40-minute spell that saw his team complete at 85 per cent and hold 59 per cent of the ball, going in to half-time at 14-0 ahead.

"A lot went our way. The thing is we're going to have to [do it again next week]. We'll have to be better again. 

"We can do it, it gives us a good platform to build on. There's nothing stopping us.

"We've done everything right to get here. It's just about making sure we nail what we have to do this week, tick the boxes we need to tick and don't let the outside focus of the what if, if we win, what happens after that, and sort of forget the 80 minutes that's ahead because it's going to be a big 80 minutes.

"There's not much point going there if you lose because it's a terrible feeling."

 

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