Maloney shows temperament at time of need

Scott Bailey
James Maloney bounced back from throwing an intercept to lay the platform for the Blues' 22-12 win

James Maloney knows how to take setbacks.

His NRL journeyman status - despite being a two-time premiership-winning half - is testament to that.

But on Wednesday night, on rugby league's biggest stage at the MCG, Maloney did it again for NSW.

Maloney played a role in every point scored in the Blues' 22-12 win, including those scored by Queensland.

After he threw the final pass for James Tedesco's opening try following some Damien Cook brilliance out of dummy-half, he next found himself passing to former Cronulla teammate Valentine Holmes while on attack.

The only problem? Holmes was in Maroon and he sprinted 85 metres to score.

After halftime Maloney was at it again. He had a pass called forward and the Maroons scored in the following set to take the lead despite a try-saving tackle from the five-eighth.

But Maloney responded. He threw a pass in the lead-up to a Latrell Mitchell try and then put up the bomb Tom Trbojevic captured to score.

NSW led 18-12, and Maloney iced the cake with a long cut-out ball to Josh Addo-Carr late to seal the win following another Tedesco break.

"It's an incredible weapon, especially when you get behind in a big game with a lot of rookies in your team," Blues coach Brad Fittler said.

"Just to get on with the game and set a bit of a platform for all the players. We were coming out of trouble and it wasn't easy. It was pretty impressive."

For all he has achieved in the NRL, Maloney's time must be now in the representative arena.

This is his fourth State of Origin series as a playmaker, and for the third time in his career he is guiding a team with a 1-0 series lead. But he is yet to lift the shield.

Unlike others who have gone before him the scars aren't evident. That was clear on Wednesday night after the man known as the joker quietened down in camp and focused on leading the Blues' attack.

"I don't think many people have (James' temperament)," Fittler said.

"It's a great mindset Jimmy has got, I think he's had it his whole life. I had a great conversation with Craig Bellamy and the way he was in Melbourne.

"He just seems to get on with things so easy."