Maloney defies critics to top five-eighth poll
James Maloney has made a stellar career out of proving his critics wrong and he's done it again in 2018.
And one of the rewards for his superb season is earning the praise of his peers by being voted the best five-eighth in the Telstra Premiership in the NRL.com Players' Poll.
The veteran NSW and Australian five-eighth has made every post a winner in his first season at Penrith after switching in the off-season from Cronulla, who signed Panthers five-eighth Matt Moylan.
Panthers teammate Isaah Yeo said some people had the wrong impression of Maloney.
"First of all you see his skill and ability, the second and something he's continued to work on is his leadership. He's taken on that captaincy role and admits it was a bit of an unknown for him," he said.
"He's been pigeonholed as a larrikin but he's been a tremendous talker and leader from the moment he arrived at the club. We've needed that particularly when Peter Wallace retired.
"I think he's been exceptional. When you've played in so many big games and have got the experience it's beneficial to the side when he can give us that insight.
"He's been fighting through injury, he should have had last weekend off but didn't. That shows a leader."
Maloney received 36% of the votes to be a clear winner ahead of Dragons captain Gareth Widdop, Storm star Cameron Munster and Warriors veteran Blake Green.
"He doesn't overthink things too much and is so laid back, that's probably what has made him such a great player," Yeo said.
"He's able to flush the bad moments and follow it up with a good one. He's done that his whole career and it helps when your leader is cool and calm. It rubs off on the younger players at the club."
Maloney starred for NSW in their State of Origin series win this year and is likely to partner Munster in the halves for Australia in the end-of-season Test against New Zealand following the retirement of long-term Kangaroos No.7 Cooper Cronk from the representative arena.
The NRL.com Players' Poll is independent of the National Rugby League. The survey was undertaken by 117 NRL players across all 16 clubs. The survey questions and results have not been designed or endorsed by the NRL or the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).