James Maloney has slammed the decision to send him to the sin bin in Origin III and lamented the fact he was just “millimetres” away from again pulling off the match-winning play.
Maloney was binned for impeding Billy Slaters attempt to ground the football for a try late in the first half, with officials deeming his actions a professional foul. NSW coach Brad Fittler said he was comfortable with the decision, although the Penrith playmaker had a different take.
“I couldnt see how it was a sin bin, to be honest,” Maloney said.
“There have been guys where they are running through the line and the blokes into his shoulder. When Im back in front of him and I just stop, what does he want me to do? Get out of his way and clap him to the ball because its Bill Slater? Please.
“I was going for the ball. I stopped because it could have hit the post.
“So you stop, I didnt grab him at any point.
“They did well without me, very well.”
The Blues scored twice while Maloney was off the field to take an unlikely 12-8 half-time lead. Eventually, the defensive effort – NSW had only 30 per cent possession at one point – took its toll.
“It was a tough game, a really gutsy performance from us and our boys,” Maloney said. "Especially that first half, we had to do a mountain of work.
“We just kept turning up for each other and we can be proud of the performance. We didnt quite get the result, thats why its hard to win 3-0. It doesnt happen often because its hard.
“We held the shield up in the end and won the series.”
Maloney was one of the most influential figures in the series, but Billy Slater controversially received the Wally Lewis medal.
“Probably a little bit surprised,” Maloney said.
“There were plenty of worthy recipients in the NSW team that won the series. Theres no doubt he was good in the two games he played, but youd think you could find a couple of recipients in the winning side that were very good.”
Asked who was his pick for the standout player across the three matches, Maloney said: “Damien Cook was really good for us, Teddy [James Tedesco] was outstanding. Tom Trbojevic. There were a lot of guys in the middle who were outstanding.
“Its hard to say. You cant knock Bill and say he didnt play very well. What he did for Queensland in those two games, the improvement they had with him there was significant.
“Someone said its the first time its ever happened. I dont think its a case of we cant find anyone from NSW, so we go there.
“It is what it is. They made a call but weve got the shield, so who gives a shit.”
Maloney almost came up with the match-winning play. With the clock running down, he threw a long cut-out pass that, had it hit its intended target, would have resulted in a late Blues try. Instead, Valentine Holmes took an intercept to seal the result.
“Millimetres. Its one of those things, not quite,” he said.
“There have been a few [this series]. Val was like diving to get it, it was literally just in his grip.”
A series victory was the last prize that has eluded Maloney throughout an illustrious career. He now boast two premierships, an Australian Test jersey and an Origin win.
“Thats pleasing. Thats something I was trying to do and havent been able to,” he said.
“To hold that shield and then say youve done it, after [this] we celebrate and when its all said and done go back, focus on the Panthers and get ready for next year. Hopefully Ill get another crack next year at retaining it.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.
Most Viewed in Sport
Morning & Afternoon Newsletter