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Two-time premiership winner Jame Maloney

A laid-back larrikin till the end, James Maloney sauntered over barefoot for his last mid-week media conferences as an NRL player.

If he was experiencing any nerves or overwhelming nostalgia before his final game in Australia against Newcastle at Panthers Stadium on Sunday, the cheeky Penrith five-eighth didn't let on.

The tributes for one of the game's true characters and most successful modern playmakers will come thick and fast. But the magnitude of the occasion hasn't yet dropped on the Catalans Dragons-bound 33-year-old.

"Everyone keeps asking me [how I feel] but to me it's not that emotional," Maloney said.

"I'm not retiring so it doesn't seem like it's ending. It's just like I'm moving on to another club which I've done a heap of times before."

Indeed, across 246 games Maloney has never spent more than three years with one club since coming into top grade at the Melbourne Storm in 2009.

One year at the Storm, three with the Warriors, another three as a Rooster, two years in Cronulla and two at Penrith. And throw in two premierships (2013, 2016) at the Roosters and Sharks.

"Probably when you look back and you go, 'Alright that's it'... it's been a pretty good career and a pretty good journey," Maloney said.

"It just doesn't have that feeling [now] because to me it's not the end of it. It's just purely moving on."

Maloney prepares for NRL farewell

French sojourn

Maloney said he'll miss the intense week-to-week competition the NRL brings but hopes the switch to French Super League club, Catalans, on a three-year deal will be "less taxing on the body".

"It's a different competition and a big change but it's just another stepping stone in the journey," he said.

"I'm a bit older now and every year you start to feel it a little bit more."

After last week's loss to the Roosters, Maloney consulted his former coach Trent Robinson - whom he won the 2013 premiership under - about what to expect living in France. Robinson coached Catalans in 2011-12.

"I picked his brain because he's obviously spent a bit of time over there," Maloney said.

"It was really good, actually, just to get an insight into what it's like ... [He told me] how the French guys were and how to get the best out of them and I learned a little bit about the culture."

The 14-time NSW Origin representative has been using phone apps to study basic French and already has one important phrase down-pat.

"I know how to order a beer," Maloney said, before proving his bilingual skills.

And he isn't concerned about how the supposedly-snobby locals might perceive his knockabout Aussie nature.

"Talking to people, I think it's more a cultural thing. They're not actually as rude as what they seem once you sort of know the culture," Maloney said.

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Favourite moments

Renowned for producing in clutch situations - picking up the moniker 'Jimmy Wins' - there's been plenty of highlights for the pint-sized No.6.

"It's hard to pinpoint one [moment]. Obviously the grand finals and premierships were really special," he said.

"The last couple of series wins in Origin were really special to me, too, and probably the chance I got to play for the Kangaroos and represent Australia, that was a milestone too.

"I've just enjoyed it and had so much fun along the way and in our job that's something you'll miss when it is all over ... You basically come in and hang with 30 of your best mates every day."

Panthers future

His four-game stint with the Storm as a rookie aside, Maloney reached grand finals with all of his clubs except the Panthers.

He admitted to being disappointed that he couldn't do similar at Penrith, with the side cruelly knocked out in week two of the finals last year by a Sharks field goal and then missing the top-eight in 2019.

"We put ourselves in that position over the course of [this] year - inconsistency, you know," Maloney said.

"[But] hopefully I can leave here and I've helped a lot of these young kids develop in some way and they can have some success."

There's a perception the Panthers have underachieved greatly in recent seasons due to their talented roster and exceptional junior pathways.

But Maloney can't understand why there's so much external expectation on the club to win their first competition since 2003, when some rival teams have been starved of success for much longer.

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"There's nothing saying that [Penrith winning a premiership] can't happen reasonably quickly, but I don't know why this club is the only one that seems to have a time-frame," he said.

"There's plenty of others that haven't won comps a long time before Penrith have. It's everyone's goal and that's what they'll be looking to do every year.

"It's not out of reach, obviously, but there's a bit to do."

Overall, Maloney envisions a successful future at the foot of the mountains.

"I think [the club's] in a strong position - I think Penrith should always be in a strong position," he said.

"Obviously they're really financially stable now which has all been set up. And they've got such a junior nursery. You keep seeing these kids come through.

" ... I was looking at the wall the other day, since I've come here two years ago we've had 18 blokes debut ... that's a lot in two seasons.

"So hopefully all those players will be better for the experience and as the years go on they stick together."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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