Maloney Reminds Me of Thurston: Tamou

He's played both for and against Johnathan Thurston for a number of years - and now James Tamou is seeing a similar influence in Panthers recruit James Maloney.

Maloney, who arrives at the foot of the mountains from the Sharks as part of a 'player swap' with former captain Matt Moylan, has already had a major effect on the playing group at Penrith. It's earned high praise from Tamou, who also played alongside Maloney in the 2013 and 2016 Origin series.

"It kind of reminds me a bit of Johnathan Thurston, in he demands what he wants and when he gets what he wants he can play to his best," Tamou told the Sydney Morning Herald. "I think that will help us for sure.

"Off the field he was unreal [in former Origin camps]. I was sitting in the back seat [of the bus] just watching him and laughing. He's slowly bringing that here as he gets to know everyone. He's so chilled and laid back he's easy to get along with, but letting his voice be known, too.

"Even in Origin camp he was doing most of the talking and he's brought that here as well, which is good to see. It will do the young boys, especially Nathan Cleary, the world of good. He's still young and it won't hurt to get that experience and knowledge."

Maloney's combination with Cleary is a major talking point ahead of the Panthers' 2018 season, with the halves pairing tipped by some to feature for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues later in the year. Tamou, meanwhile, will be hoping to return to career-best form in a bid to earn an Origin recall.

"Inconsistent," Tamou said of his 2017 season. "It took a while to get there and I'd have one game and then go missing for a couple and then be back up there.

"Instead of being the marked man I guess I can concentrate on the football a bit more [in 2018]."

The 14-time NSW representative will first have to battle with an ongoing hamstring complaint, which threatens to impact his pre-season availability. Tamou is likely to be fit in time for Round 1, however, when the Panthers host the Eels at Panthers Stadium on Sunday, 11 March.