Warriors NRL five-eighth James Maloney raised more than a few eyebrows in November when he signed to play for the Sydney Roosters from 2013.
Agreeing to terms 460 days before he’s due to pull on a Roosters jersey meant Maloney was on the end of some heated criticism regarding his state of mind while he’s playing in Auckland this year.
But the laidback Maloney said he’s expecting the early sorting of business to have the opposite effect.
“I don’t read too much of it anyway so I wouldn’t know what’s been said really,” Maloney said.
“I’m happy, I’ve done the deal, it’s all sorted and put behind me. Everyone over here has put it behind them and it’s all done and dusted.
“It’s business as usual now and I can concentrate on my footy.”
The 25-year-old was sporting a raised eyebrow himself on Saturday night thanks to a cut above his right eye, suffered in the Warriors 22-14 trial win against South Sydney.
He copped an accidental elbow from opposite number John Sutton while pressuring his kick, but Maloney said he was just happy to be back on the paddock again.
“The cut is a welcome back to footy season, I suppose,” he said.
The clash in Coffs Harbour was the first time Maloney has played since his team lost the grand final to Manly last October, after he skipped the Warriors opening trial of the new season.
He admits the pain of the grand final defeat still burns inside him.
“Obviously, the feeling you have after it (a grand final loss), that’s going to drive you forever I think, knowing that if you ever get back there, you don’t want to do that again,” he said.
“You can’t do anything about it now, though.
“You just start the year this year and hopefully we can build and go on and be better this year.”
New Warriors coach Brian McClennan has heard all the talk about Maloney being a distracted player due to his imminent return to NSW, but he’s confident the five-eighth cares about the cause.
“Of course he does,” McClennan said. “James is very highly competitive – he’s a very important part of the Warriors.
“We’ve all got goals for this year and we’d like to do really well, every one of us. We’re all putting in together and Jimmy has been fantastic.”