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Monday, February 18, 2019

Back-to-back titles for Roosters almost impossible: Maloney

Penrith five-eighth James Maloney believes the Sydney Roosters' quest for back-to-back titles is likely to hit a hurdle given the weight of history that is against them leading into the 2019 season.
Maloney has won titles at the Roosters (2013) and Cronulla (2016) and has felt firsthand the hangover effects a premiership win can have on a squad mentally.
On both occasions following success, the Roosters (preliminary final) and Sharks (qualifying final) made the top-eight in their next season but like all premiers since 1993, failed in their quest to defend the title.
Maloney's own output was criticised at the Sharks in 2017 with the uncertainty around his future and the RLPA's collective bargaining agreement affecting his form.
The 32-year-old five-eighth said on Monday the Roosters faced a difficult task with rival clubs out to target them.
"I don't think it happens as a coincidence," Maloney said. "You can block it out and say whatever but it hasn't been done for so long for a reason. It's tough, that's just the way it is.
"As much as people say you've still got the hunger it's hard when you actually achieve what you've been trying to all year you finally get it. You just don't get an easy game the next year.
"Everyone that plays the Roosters this year will have a 'They're last year's premiers' [mentality]. Whether a side is coming 16th or second they'll play their best footy game of footy against them."
The Roosters lost grand final winners Blake Ferguson, Dylan Napa and Ryan Matterson over the off-season but have recruited accordingly to replace the trio.
Former Australian winger Brett Morris slotted onto the left edge with ease on his way to a man-of-the-match performance against Wigan in the World Club Challenge with a hat-trick of tries in the 20-8 win.
NSW star Angus Crichton is also expected to make his injury return in the March 2 NRL trial against Manly, while England representative Ryan Hall is due back from an ACL injury in the early rounds.
Maloney said it didn't matter whether the Roosters looked strong on paper.
"It's hard for a side to be up for 24 rounds a year, it makes life hard," he said.
"There might be games last year where they weren't at their best and they won them. I think when everyone's at their best they turn into losses the next year.
"Your confidence goes a little bit because you're not playing the same way, there's all those sort of dramas. They'll have a really good side and will be tough to beat but history tells us it's tough to do."

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