The more things change the more they stay the same for Penrith Panthers recruit James Maloney.
Reporting for duty at his new club, the third time the 31-year-old half has done so in the space of six NRL seasons, the prized recruit made clear his want for one thing to remain – his hold on the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues no.6 jersey.
Set to partner young gun Nathan Cleary in the Panthers halves for Round 1 – a combination put forward to fill the Blues play-making roles in 2018 – the nine-time NSW representative knows an impressive start to the new season will hold the pair in good stead for representative selection.
“It always starts early, the Origin talk. That’s how it is,” Maloney says.
“My focus at the moment is to make sure that I get settled in [at the Panthers], just to get everything happening here, and playing good football.
“That’ll be my goal to be back [in the Blues team] again, and I think Nathan is obviously there, he’s playing good footy. He’ll definitely be in the mix, but we’ll wait and see. It’s a long way away.”
Looking slick in his new club’s colours, Maloney resumed training with the Panthers having returned from a successful Rugby League World Cup campaign with the Kangaroos over the summer.
“We’ve only had a couple of sessions together, we’re starting through the basics and obviously getting to know the plays,” Maloney says.
“I’ve known ‘Nath’ for a little bit now, I’m looking forward to building a combination with him.
“He’s got plenty of potential there, he’s been pretty impressive in what he’s done at such a young age.”