If James Maloney’s forehead were a bull’s-eye, it would soon have run out of room for the multitude of arrows fired his way, given the haranguing he took after he signed – over the summer - to play for the Sydney Roosters in 2013.
Many thought it a cheeky move from the pint sized halfback, who had been given his big break by the New Zealand Warriors. Until then, the Australian had been stuck behind Cooper Cronk at Melbourne, waiting for his opportunity, with no real light at the end of the tunnel, to see of.
So when the Warriors put a contract offer on the table, he took the plunge, upped sticks, leaving family and friends behind for the unfamiliar surrounds of a different Country.
How could he, the critics reasoned, use the club they hold so dare to their hearts. To those supporters, it seemed to be nothing more than a cynical ploy on Maloney’s part to make his name in the big time, capturing the attention of a Sydney club and a big money offer, before heading home again.
No commitment or loyalty, they thought, to the club that gave him his chance. As far as the diehards were concerned, it was typical of the modern day athlete, their focus being solely on what is best for themself, thinking of nothing but their bank balances.
And knowing that he was heading back to the Rugby League heartland of Sydney at the end of the current season, how could one half of the Warriors star halves combination possibly be motivated to give his best for a club that he is about to leave?
Surely the boy from Orange, New South Wales, is only going to do enough to collect his pay each month, no longer caring for the result of his current side.
Well, amateur psychologists, put down your pad and pen, pick up the remote and tune in each and every week to view a player that gives his all regardless of the circumstances.
Lack of commitment – Ha . . . for James Maloney knows no other way than to go at every endeavour full tilt. He can show you what it means to be the ultimate team man. He may be one of the team’s stars, but, regardless, he still puts his body on the line, no matter what.
Tackles to be made, who do you call? That’s right, it’s Maloney. Long raking kicks from deep within your own territory, who do you call? Once again, it’s Maloney. Pin point accurate bombs for Manu Vatuvei to devour and dive over for a match winning try, who do you call? Maloney, of course.
And that doesn’t take into account his precision hole running that is the precursor to many a crucial try. If there is anyone in the NRL any better than the 5ft9in pocket rocket at running the best of angles – in not necessarily the best of times - off the short passing game of the likes of Feleti Mateo, then, please, step forward and state your case.
Ah, I thought so, no takers.
You see, it’s not the Maloney way to give anything less than his best. A true professional in every sense of the word, he may collect a healthy sum each week, but, he also provides the ultimate value for money.
He is also very adept at proving his critics wrong.