Why Milford has Maloney's measure

Why Milford has Maloney's measure

Deep down Anthony Milford may very well have an appreciation for the pestering ways of James Maloney.

Under the quiet, shy guise of the kid of Samoan descent lies a cheeky 22-year-old with an inner confidence that comes with being a supremely gifted footballer who on Wednesday night will spend 80 minutes opposite the man universally acknowledged as the biggest pest in the game.

So infuriating can Maloney's antics be that even teammates grow tired of it while it has been said that despite the success he has brought to clubs there has been a reason why he is now at his fourth NRL club.

Playing in his seventh Origin match for the Blues at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, Maloney will be the one tasked with sending rampaging back-rowers the way of Milford all night but former Roosters teammate Aidan Guerra says he is wasting his time if Maloney thinks he can get under the skin of Milford.

"Good luck getting a bite out of 'Milf'," Guerra said of Maloney's wise-cracking ways. "Milf will probably just smile and keep going.

"Milf is obviously pretty calm-headed out on the field. They can give it a crack but I don't really know what's going to happen.

"[Maloney's] one of those guys that drives you mad if he is in your team. The way that he plays is very similar to the way that he is just in general life. He doesn't stop, he's a bit of a ratbag and he's just one of those people who are good to have around… It's also good to say goodbye to them sometimes.

"The way that he's always played, you see him go one-on-one with the half that's opposite him. In the past him and Cooper [Cronk] have had a couple of words, that's just the way he plays.

"He is actually pretty smart, he tries to have a little bit of a mental battle as well."

‌Since joining the Broncos ahead of the 2015 season Milford and Maloney have faced off as opposition No.6s on five occasions with Milford victorious in three of those games, scoring a try in the past two wins by Brisbane.

With premiership wins with the Roosters and Sharks and a grand final appearance with the Warriors, success in the Origin arena is the one accomplishment that has thus far eluded Maloney who made his Test debut for the Kangaroos in 2016.

He's the footballer more defined by the success of the teams that he plays for rather than raw stats and someone Guerra knows will be influential in the way the Blues attack in Game One.

"He's definitely a danger man," said Guerra. "There were a couple of occasions last year he had a few little momentum swings with the way that he ran the ball.

"It's State of Origin so there are good players all over the field but he's definitely one to watch.

"When he was at the Warriors he took them to the grand final and at the Roosters he was a big part of our success.

"The way his demeanour is calm but also a hundred miles an hour at the same time, that's a good mix and there's doubting the guy can play footy."