We are not sure if it is a measure of greatness or an indication of poor comradery, but James Maloney could potentially make a record fourth NRL Grand Final appearance, each with a different club.
On the positive side of the ledger, Maloney is fit and ready to play his five-eighth slot for the Penrith Panthers this go.
When he takes the ground for Saturday’s elimination finals against the New Zealand Warriors, it will be his 19th finals match since he made his debut for Melbourne in 2009.
On the surface it would seem that Maloney is a Rolling Stone or a strictly mercenary sort, but movement from club to club is not a crime and there are often factors outside the control of the player.
Brett Kimmorley, Brett Finch and Jason Smith are the others who have played finals rugby for four different clubs.
Maloney, rather pragmatically, stated, “Finals footy is still finals footy.”
With that type of statement, it would be reasonable to predict that Maloney will surpass his mark as a player as an NRL coach.
The other clubs for which Maloney played finals were the New Zealand Warriors, the Sydney Roosters and the Cronulla Sharks.
If Penrith and Maloney can make the Grand Final, Maloney will be singular by becoming the first player to play not just finals, but also a Grand Final for four different clubs.
That would seem on the one hand a testament to his versatility and ability to mesh with other players. On the other, it could be a case of an inability to do exactly that, but to find a place to land with the right club at the right time.
On the surface, the Panthers would seem to be an unlikely prospect to make it to the Grand Final, as the latter stages of the season found them sliding. That combined with the bizarre turmoil of the axing of Coach Anthony Griffin would make a Panthers’ Grand Final appearance and victory the stuff of a most fertile imagination.