You don’t need six degrees of separation to link with an in-form playmaker about to be named for NSW in this year’s State of Origin series – just ask James Maloney.
The Panthers halfback hasn’t lived in the Central West since his late father Brian coached Orange CYMS in Group 10 during the early 1990s, but that didn’t stop a host of fans at Carrington Park on Friday night stopping the Penrith gun to chat footy.
“There was a few people I knew at the game and a couple that popped up and said they played against my old man back in the day,” Maloney smiled in the sheds after his side’s 26-20 loss to North Queensland.
“I obviously played a few younger games here while I was in Orange, but only young then so not too many.
“It’s always nice coming back though. I love getting out here and it’s great when the NRL takes games out here, you see it in the kids with the gala days, they get so pumped to see us.
“They don’t get the opportunity very often so it’s good to get out here for a few days and make a few people happy.”
The in-form half in NSW through nine rounds of the 2018 season, Maloney said his focus wasn’t on Origin, but getting Penrith back on track after a six-point loss on Friday night.
“It couldn’t have got any worse,” he said looking at the defeat to the Cowboys.
“We’re a bit disappointed to lose like that, we missed the mark by a long way in that first half, we just gave ourselves no chance.
“We played a good 20 minutes in the second half and got ourselves back in the game but it was too big of an ask after the first half.
“We enjoy coming out here to Bathurst, we only get one game here so you like to make sure it’s a good one.
“They turn out in their droves here, it’s awesome to see all the fans so it’s disappointing to not get the job done for them.”