Blues' Maloney proud of big-game ability

James Maloney says he relishes being seen as a key man as he returns for NSW in Origin II.
James Maloney says he relishes being seen as a key man as he returns for NSW in Origin II.

NSW veteran James Maloney admits that of all the things he's been labelled as over his 11-year career, a big-game player tops the lot.

And the Blues will be hoping his reputation holds true when they attempt to keep the State of Origin series alive in Perth on Sunday.

It's a standing he has earned after winning two NRL premierships with the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla, as well as last year's Origin triumph.

"It's probably one of the wraps that I get most proud about," Maloney said.

"It's a good thing to have said about you. It's why you like playing. You like playing against the best players on the biggest stage, high pressure environments.

"It's when the best come out of everyone. I enjoy it."

The 33-year-old denied his ego was dented when he was left out of the side for game-one, despite helping steer NSW to a series win last year.

He was also seemingly set to be overlooked for game two in favour of Mitchell Pearce, before the Newcastle star was ruled out late through injury.

Instead, he now re-unites with Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary at the scrumbase.

"I'm not that deep a thinker, so I don't think too much about it. I roll with the punches, and it is what it is. I probably understood being overlooked," he said.

"Our side at Penrith there, we were sitting near last on the table. It'd be a big call to take two halves out of the side coming last."

After taking to the field for the first time this week with a light run on Tuesday, the Blues will ramp up their training with another session on Wednesday.

Of most importance will be their combinations, with both edges having undergone major surgery due to the mass changes from game one.

It is one of just two major runs left before the game at Optus Stadium on Sunday.

"Obviously a few boys played on Sunday so it was only pretty light (on Tuesday). We'll have a pretty big session (Wednesday)," Maloney said.

"We're just nutting out a few things that we want to get done so we hit the ground running (Wednesday) and we don't miss a beat."

Australian Associated Press