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Maloney aware of pressure

10/03/2011 04:13:24 PM Comments (0)

Five-eighth James Maloney is aware of the competition snapping at his heels as looks to build on an impressive debut season in the NRL with the Warriors.

Maloney will resume his partnership with halfback Brett Seymour when the Warriors open their season against Parramatta in Auckland on Saturday night.

The arrival of the former Eel Feleti Mateo has added to coach Ivan Cleary's halves options, with Mateo having played as five-eighth for Tonga and also earlier in his club career.

Against his former club at Eden Park, Mateo will use his ball-playing skills in the backrow.

It's not just the claims of his new teammate that Maloney will face for the No 6 jersey.

"You've got Isaac John and a lot of other young blokes that can definitely play there," he said.

"I've got to play good footy to keep that spot. I'm under no illusions about that."

Maloney arrived at the Warriors at the end of 2009 largely unknown, with just four matches for Melbourne under his belt.

He went on to score 188 points last season, including 28 against Brisbane in just his third outing to equal former fullback Cleary's club record for the highest individual match tally.

Maloney's performances saw him selected in the Prime Minister's 13 against Papua New Guinea and included in the shortlist for standoff of the year at the Rugby League International Federation awards.

"Everything went really well last year and I just thoroughly enjoyed playing regularly with the boys," he said.

"Towards the end, getting the PM's gig was a bit of a surprise.

"This year, I'm trying to step up again and improve on that - just the basic stuff, just doing things a little different or a little bit better."

Noted for his confidence and chatter, the 24-year-old Maloney is not concerned about the so-called second-season syndrome, where some players find it hard to back-up a good first year.

"I'm feeling good and really keen to get out there this weekend and put on a good performance first-up," he said.

"I'm sure there's a lot of talk about second-year syndrome ... but I'm not fazed about it."

Bookmakers on both sides of the Tasman have the Warriors in the mix for a maiden NRL title.

Last year, they made a return to the playoffs, but went out at the first hurdle after a defeat away to Gold Coast was followed by other results going against them.

"We'll take it week by week, but definitely coming toward the end of the season, we would be looking for the finals and hopefully progress a bit further," Maloney said.

"We've got a lot of depth this year, a lot of blokes vying for positions, which should make for a very competitive environment."

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