All smiles: NSW winger James McManus limbers up for training on Monday. Photo: Jenny EvansNSW five-eighth James Maloney is preparing to be targeted again by Queensland forward Sam Thaiday in the State of Origin decider.
Thaiday was used by the Maroons to deliberately isolate Maloney in game two in Brisbane, and the ploy had an almost immediate effect, with Brisbane back-rower scoring inside two minutes.
Given the success of the tactic, Maloney said it would be naive of him to simply hope Thaiday would not come looking for him again.
”You’d be silly not to [expect Thaiday to target him],” Maloney said. ”You’d be naive to think it wasn’t going to happen.
”I suppose we’ve got to make sure every time they come down our side, there’s no joy there, and it backfires on them.
”If he comes, hopefully I hit him a bit better than last game. It’s not about hoping they don’t come. It’s getting ready for them to come, and making sure when they do, we dish them up.”
Maloney was adamant that he could handle the bigger man running at him next Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium.
”It’s definitely things you can fix,” Maloney said. ”It’s not an issue for me. It’s just making sure I do fix it.”
Maloney and his club and state halves partner Mitchell Pearce have been under pressure following the game-two defeat. Pearce has stated he believed a loss would end his State of Origin career.
The five-eighth, who debuted in game one this year, said he appreciated the show of faith by coach Laurie Daley.
”To an extent, that’s a motivation for me,” Maloney said. ”There’s obviously people who put me here because they believe I can do the job. It’s a matter of doing it for them.”
The carrot, apart from a first series win since 2005, is that ”if we get the job done, there’ll be plenty more there”.
”I suppose it’s a driving force to not leave any stone unturned, and make sure if it is on the line, tear in,” Maloney said.
”If we go out there and do the job, and turn things around, it could be a massive moment in both our careers.”
Pearce was also looking on the bright side of being in the Blues squad ahead of a decider, and capable of ending Queensland’s dominance.
”After the first game, everyone was tipping Jimmy to be here for 10 years – we lose the second one, now it’s his last one, as well as me,” Pearce said. ”I’m not naive – I understand that I haven’t delivered, as well as the team, results over the last couple of years.
”If we don’t win, they’ll probably look somewhere else. I’m not stupid about it. But it’s all the more reason to win.
”There’s no doubt, it is pretty brutal after losses – it’s not something you enjoy. It’s all part of what Origin’s about though. When you win, it’s the best feeling ever, and when you lose, it’s awful. That’s why you’ve got to win. If you’re not winning, you’ve got to expect it … If you put yourself out on the big stage, you’ve got to deliver.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.