Maloney's amnesia can't hide unwanted Origin record
Phil Gould hails James Maloney as possessing rugby league's most useful case of amnesia but the veteran playmaker is still haunted by an unwanted Origin record.
Maloney goes into Sunday night's clash at ANZ Stadium with a chance to sew up a cherished series win – the one achievement still eluding the Blues five-eighth in a career that has seen him find success wherever he lands.
Throughout a rocks and diamonds game one outing, Gould marvelled at the 32-year-old's ability to forget two costly errors that led to Queensland tries, with NSW's most successful coach labelling Maloney's "the worst memory in the world".
But twice previously Maloney has played in Blues sides that coughed up a 1-0 lead to lose series in 2013 and 2017, two of only five NSW teams to do so in Origin's history.
Only former teammates Paul Gallen, Jarryd Hayne and Ryan Hoffman (2008 and 2013) have prevailed in two separate Origin openers only to see Queensland claim the series, with that trio cracking the curse with 2014's breakthrough win.
Maloney is well aware of the stakes going into game two. Speaking on Thursday, he conceded his home life copped it for some time after 2017's blown opportunity when a 16-6 halftime lead in last year's corresponding fixture ended in defeat.
"This is my fourth series and the third time I've been one-up, so I probably understand more than many that there's still a long way to go and a lot of work to do," Maloney said.
"Last year it took a lot out of me. I remember my wife saying to me at one stage 'I know you're dirty and you're hurting but we're here to help'.
"I was just cranky for a while and snappy at the kids and that's not ideal. It's the mental drain that it takes. It is important. It means a lot to you so it's hard to take.
"You still remember the way it went down, it hurt a bit.
"Hopefully we don't have the same experience this Sunday. You take some lessons out of it and I suppose it just goes to show that despite being one-up there's still a lot of work to do to actually get the result you're chasing and hopefully we can do that on Sunday."
Maloney's winning ways have been well-documented, with premierships at the Roosters and Sharks, another grand final appearance at the Warriors and his latest club Penrith flying at the pointy end of the ladder since his arrival.
So too has his laidback approach to the mental side of the game, with Maloney famously blasé toward video and planning sessions.
He dismisses the growing influence of sports psychology and mind coaches with a grin and a simple "that's not my go," and would rather get an extra hour's sleep than join Brad Fittler's early morning yoga sessions.
Be it a Craig Bellamy spray that is still talked about almost a decade on from his time at Melbourne, or an intercept pass that sets up a try for Queensland rather than NSW, there's not a hell of a lot the fazes the Blues most senior man.
"A lot of people have asked me about it, I don't know, it just doesn't seem that bad to me," Maloney said.
"I'm not going to get anything out of kicking stones or worrying about it, I've got to move onto what's next. I think that's a logical way to look at things and that's just how I look at it.
"Something like that it just doesn't seem that hard to me."