James Maloney has been hailed rugby league's ultimate competitor after the two-time NRL premiership winner prepares to wind up his career in the English Super League,
Despite having an option to take up another year at Catalans Dragons, Maloney confirmed on Monday night he would retire at the end of the 2021 UK Super League season.
The 35-year-old signed off on his 247-game NRL career two seasons ago, and remains the only halfback in the game's history to have taken three clubs to grand finals.
He has since shown no signs of slowing down, playing a pivotal role in the Super League ladder-leading Dragons' club record run of 12 straight wins this year.
“He's definitely one of the greatest winners of the last decade for sure,” NSW State of Origin teammate Damien Cook said..
“He's a great leader, he's someone who brings the whole team together. He just expects a certain standard, and he's a winner, he's a competitor.
“It just shows when we brought him back into the Origin series (in 2019) we went on to win that one.
“When he's gone to different clubs, they've won competitions.”
Maloney spent his NRL career known as a larrikin who rarely lasted more than a few years at one club.
But beyond all else he brought success.
After debuting with Melbourne in 2009, he moved to the Warriors in 2010 and took them to an unlikely grand final in 2011.
He moved to the Sydney Roosters in 2012 where he won a premiership in 2013, before taking Cronulla to a drought-breaking title in 2016.
The five-eighth couldn't replicate that at Penrith in 2018 and 2019, but has since scored 336 points in 35 games for Catalans as they charge towards this year's finals.
“He's one of those players you see on the field where he might throw an intercept early in the game trying to hit the winger, but he won't to go away from it,” Cook said.
“He'll end up setting up the winning try with the same play.
“He backs himself, and he just puts his body on the line too. There's not much of him but he is always putting his body on the line for the team.”
Maloney's career also included 14 Origins for NSW – figuring in two winning series – and four games for Australia.
“I've had a lot of fun and been very fortunate to have a long career that has given me and my family so many opportunities,” Maloney said.
“I'm very grateful to the Dragons for the opportunity to come and play over here and for how they have looked after me and the family in difficult circumstances.
“I hope that I can repay that by finishing this season lifting the trophy.”
– with PAInternet Explorer Channel Network