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James Maloney has famously been the bane of coaches when it comes to video sessions over his career. Now he runs them.

Maloney has always been the loudest and most consistent of voices in any footballing environment, but with a record amount of rookies in Brad Fittler's NSW side, the 31-year-old is in charge when it comes to the nitty-gritty of analysis and game management in the Blues camp.

It's light years from the well-travelled Maloney yarn of his days at Melbourne, when Craig Bellamy flicked the lights on to blow several gaskets at whoever was crunching through a bag of chips as he explained a play.

Maloney, then just a couple of games into his NRL career, copped it and put down the bag, letting Bellamy resume his review before crunching his way through the other half of his snack.

Now with 20-year-old Panthers teammate Nathan Cleary joining him at the NSW scrum base, team advisor Greg Alexander says it's well and truly Maloney calling the shots when it comes to picking apart Queensland's defence.   

"He's the most experienced player we've got, he's taking charge when it comes to the analysis and planning," Alexander told

James Maloney and Nathan Cleary.
James Maloney and Nathan Cleary. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"He's played in grand finals, he's played plenty of Origin and he's a talker. But the other boys, no one has really sat back.

"Naturally the halves, Nathan and Damien (Cook), James Tedesco as well, there's plenty of chat amongst them.

"But James is the most dominant voice. It's the same dynamic that comes through from Penrith."

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With that same dynamic taking the Panthers to a share of the competition lead, handing Maloney the keys to the NSW attack is a no-brainer.

Particularly with Cleary coming into his first Origin still just two weeks after returning from the first serious injury of his career, a period in which Maloney played as Penrith's chief playmaker with great success.

Next Wednesday won't be quite the "when Jimmy Maloney wants the ball, give Jimmy Maloney the ball" directive he issued after a lengthy Cronulla video session once, before promptly marching out of the room.

But Maloney will take on goal-kicking duties given Cleary hasn't touched them since returning from his MCL issue at Penrith.

And Maloney will be taking more on-field responsibility than ever before in his nine-game Origin career.

"It's nice to already have a few games under the belt with Nath and understand each other's game," he said.

"But I think in the context of this game and how many young guys are in the team, there's no doubt that at key moments there will be some game management and steering the side around that will fall on my shoulders, that's something I'll have to do."

Which suits Cleary - who has already been sized up by some for a 10-year stint in the No.7 jersey - down to the ground.

"I don't think I could ask for anyone better to be my halves partner and I'm stoked that I'm going to be taking the field with Jimmy come Wednesday," Cleary says.

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"He's helped me out a lot both here and since coming to Penrith. We do spend a lot of time together and talk footy and all that as you do. Jimmy's obviously got a very smart footy brain, so I try and take everything on board with him.

"Getting to work alongside people like Freddy, Joey and Bedsy (assistant coaches Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus) makes this a dream come true.

"… And Jimmy I've known him since I was a kid. I always enjoyed watching him as a kid and ever since he came onto the scene.

"He's a great player and someone I've always watched pretty closely, I've known what his strengths are for a while and tried to add bits of his game into mine."


Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.

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