James Maloney in action for the Blues last year.
James Maloney in action for the Blues last year. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Maloney says he will not give away any free penalties to the Maroons in Origin 1

JAMES Maloney knows he has a target on his back.

It isn't because opposition sides want to neutralise his attacking game, it's because he can't stop 'taking heads off'.

The Sharks playmaker currently leads the competition for penalties conceded with a huge 21 indiscretions and holds the lead comfortably with eight more infringements than Canberra's Josh Hodgson and the Gold Coast's Ryan James who are tied for second with 13 apiece.

And referees have Maloney firmly in their sights when he hits the field, at least he thinks so.

But the premiership winner is hoping officials will stick to the Origin tradition of putting away the whistle when the two states collide next week at Suncorp Stadium.

Maloney expects the Maroons to capitalise on any ill-discipline and isn't too keen on giving them any extra chances to hurt the Blues on the scoreboard.

"Everyone keeps asking me [about the penalties], I've got to try and take a few less heads off when I can," Maloney said.

"At the moment I'm on the referees' radar a bit and being scrutinised pretty heavily.

"You don't want to give them an easy leg up to get out of their own end.

"It's non-stop footy and hopefully they don't tend to blow so many when it's NSW and Queensland."

Maloney also said he is excited to link up with former teammate Mitchell Pearce and that the Roosters halfback is now more ready than ever to return to the Origin arena.


James Maloney (centre) high five members of the junior State of Origin teams following a media call in Sydney
James Maloney (centre) high five members of the junior State of Origin teams following a media call in Sydney PAUL MILLER

According to Maloney, Pearce has finally come of age as playmaker and can be counted on to step-up when a game is in the balance, like he did on ANZAC Day against the Dragons when he kicked a clutch field goal in golden point to steal victory for his side.

"The style of play I think is similar [to how he's played in the past]", he said.

"I just think he's matured in what he's doing. There have been a few games this year, in big moments when he's coming up with the right play.

NSW Blues State of Origin player James Maloney (centre) high five members of the junior State of Origin team.

"You can argue pretty comfortably he's in career best form and hasn't been in better place to come back to origin".

NSW coach Laurie has handed control of his side to his new halves combination in the absence of hooker Robbie Farah.

Maloney says leaving Farah out of the side and opting for Titans rake Nathan Peats is an indication that Daley wants to take his game plan in a new direction.

"Laurie has got an idea of how he wants to play and he's picked a side to do that," Maloney.

"With Robbie you had a bit more play off him. I don't think Peatsy is that sort of player.

"We hit the field today [Wednesday] and we'll work out how we want to do it.

"A lot of it will be a matter of Mitch [Pearce] and I picking up where we left off, playing how we play and then working with Peatsy and Teddy [James Tedesco] at the back and talking about how they want to get the ball".

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