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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Extended rest won't hurt Penrith's halves: Maloney

Penrith five-eighth James Maloney says longer injury-enforced off-season layoffs could be a blessing in disguise for both himself and Blues halves partner Nathan Cleary as each eyes a return to full training by January.
Maloney had a cleanout between his C4 and C5 vertebrae, as well as between his C5 and C6, while Cleary had his left ankle reconstructed due to an ongoing issue with his medial ligament.
Speaking after Panthers training on Wednesday, Maloney, who is already back running, expected to be back in contact not long after Christmas. Cleary was in a moon boot but will be running on the Alter G before Christmas and in contact training some time in January.
Maloney said the pair had already had discussions with new coach Ivan Cleary and assistant Peter Wallace about refining their combination heading into 2019.
"We had a little chat with Wal the other day just basically coming over, nutting out a few basic things on what we want to do," Maloney said.
"I've [Cleary] is pretty relaxed, he lets [us] guys have a bit of input into how we want to do things. Towards the back end of last year we nutted out an idea of how things worked for us so we'll probably start along similar lines and build from there.
"Not too much [changes]. Start off where we left off and pick up there and see what we can tinker with along the way."
Maloney said his rehab was all on schedule and he was in no risk of missing any footy.
"I'm doing a little bit, back into a bit of running. I'm staying out of the contact stuff til after Chrissy, after that I'll be back into it," he said.
"[They] just needed to clean out around the nerves there so they did that and that was pretty much it. It was a build-up, it wasn't an incident, it's deteriorated over a lot of years and got to the point where it needed some work done so a bit of running repairs and we're back.
"It's not catching [anymore] and having all the nerve issues with it. Straight away [it felt better so] hopefully it's a little bit freer."
While plenty of the current Panthers roster remember Ivan from his previous stint at the club, Maloney's relationship with the returning coach goes back further to when the pair guided the Warriors to the 2011 grand final.
"[I played under him for] two years over there when I was first starting out. Really good, enjoyed playing under him there," Maloney said.
"I run into him throughout the time between now and then, stayed in contact and get on really well so looking forward to it. He's been really good since he's started up.
"He's quite defensive-based. Probably as a side that's an area we wanted to get a bit more solid in and a bit more consistency. Bit of work [to do] there.
"He's got the temperament for it. I had a bit of success with him at the Warriors, hopefully have a bit more over here."
One of the differences of pre-season training under Cleary compared to former coach Anthony Griffin is a greater focus on training with ball in hand rather than just getting in lots of kilometres early on.
"I think that's where you need to be these days," Maloney said.
"It's all well and good to be fit but you need the skills under fatigue and you can only do that by practising it. It's been a little bit different, a bit less long running but the boys are enjoying it, there are still big improvements for us to make but still a lot of time."
The fact the club's two main playmakers wouldn't be running a ballwork session together until after Christmas was no issue, according to Maloney.
"If it was last year it would have been more of an issue, the fact we've got 12 months under our belt playing together, once we get out there we'll pick up where we left off, the rest is probably good for both of us," he added.
"Nath had a pretty big year last year with Origin commitments for the first time, it's not going to hurt him having a rest and I'm getting old so it's not going to hurt me either!"