Time is right for Maloney to make mark: Florimo

More than five years after recommending James Maloney to then Warriors coach Ivan Cleary, former NSW five-eighth Greg Florimo believes the Bears junior is ready to help the Blues to victory in the Origin opener.

Florimo, who played alongside Cleary at North Sydney, advised him of Maloney’s potential after witnessing the central coast product’s rise through the Bears junior ranks.

At the time, Maloney was playing lower grades at Parramatta and while he also had a one-year-stint at Melbourne, the 26-year-old playmaker eventually agreed to join the Warriors in 2010.

”He is one of the most competitive players in the game and if you look at the size of him you couldn’t imagine the way he plays the game,” said Florimo, who is the Bears chief executive. ”It blows me away that he is so direct and physical.

”He started out in our Jersey Flegg team and then halfway through the season he knocked Ben Black out of the halfback spot in the NSW Cup team.

”While he was at Parramatta [in 2008] I had a conversation with Ivan who had his eye on Liam Foran and I said ‘mate, I have got a better one for you’ and I think that started James Maloney’s conversation with the Warriors. I thought he proved a good buy for them.”

Since joining Sydney Roosters this season, Maloney’s game has gone to another level and Blues coach Laurie Daley has made no secret of the fact that his relationship with halfback Mitchell Pearce ensured both a place in the NSW team.

”They work well off each other,” Florimo said.

”James has got a wide array of tricks in his bag and I think as he has matured he has become more savvy at making the right decisions at the right times.

”I think that has helped to take a little bit of pressure off Mitchell because he was doing all of the running, kicking and passing, and now James has taken that load on one side of the field.”

Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who was disappointed to lose Maloney after just four NRL appearances for the club in 2009, also predicted he would perform well in his Origin debut.

”The way he plays his footy, he’s a real Origin player and there’s no better person to pick the NSW five-eighth than Laurie Daley,” Bellamy said.

”Laurie knows what it takes to be a good five-eighth at Origin level so I’m sure James will succeed and do a really good job.

”He really kicked on over there with the Warriors and had a couple of tremendous seasons and it looks like he’s gone to another level with the Roosters,” Bellamy said.

”He’s obviously worked very hard, he didn’t have an easy ride and now he’s got the ultimate reward, playing for NSW.

”I’m sure he will make a good stick of it; he’s a tough, gritty player and he’s got skills and a good kicking game.”

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