Panthers five-eighth James Maloney.

Maloney happy with early progress at Penrith

New Penrith five-eighth James Maloney admits the Panthers are already ahead of where he expected them to be following the club’s opening trial victory against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night.

Maloney, who set up a try in his 23-minute maiden stint, didn’t get plenty of opportunity to showcase his talent in the 30-18 victory.

However he insists the performance of the team is well ahead of where he thought it would be three weeks out from the start of the season.

“I thought it was probably more impressive than what I thought it was going to be,” Maloney said after the game at Panthers Stadium.

“I thought it was really positive. I was really impressed with some of the young kids coming through. They have a lot of footy in them. I thought tonight was above my expectations. I didn’t have huge expectations going into this first hit-out.

“I was impressed with how it all came together. There’s plenty to work on and there’s so much improvement in this side, which from the day I got here has excited me because of how much potential and improvement is still to come.”

From the day I got here has excited me because of how much potential and improvement is still to come.

James Maloney

Maloney’s halves partner, Nathan Cleary, also impressed in his 40-minute outing. The young No.7 set up a try of his own as he and Maloney built the foundations of a new halves combination.

“It will take time but the basics are there,” Maloney said of the partnership with Cleary.

“We’ll get a better hit-out next week and how we want to do everything when we get a bit more time together. But I thought it was good. I’d like to play close to a full game next week.

“It’s something that I’ll have to talk to Hook (Anthony Griffin) about but it will be nice to get a full stint in there before we go into round one. Fingers crossed that will happen and obviously will get some time with some of the other boys that didn’t play.”