James Maloney's path to a NSW State of Origin starting spot has been a nomadic one but the Sydney Roosters five-eighth is determined to keep hold of his Blues jumper.
The 26-year-old was born in Orange in central western NSW. His family later moved to the Central Coast.
After coming through the junior ranks of the North Sydney Bears, he was signed by Parramatta in 2007 and helped the Eels' feeder club Wentworthville win the NSW Cup.
Despite his strong performances, he failed to break into the NRL with Parramatta and moved to Melbourne in 2009 to try his hand with the Storm where he spent a year playing alongside Queensland superstars Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.
But after playing just four games for the Storm, he knew his career was at the crossroads and opted to take up an offer from Ivan Cleary to join the Warriors in New Zealand.
During a successful four years across the ditch, he reached a grand final in 2011 before the Roosters came knocking.
"I've been around all right, but it's helped me get to where I am and, every club I've been to, I've learned something," Maloney said.
Although the June 5 opener at ANZ Stadium will be his Origin debut, Maloney enjoyed a small taste when he skippered the NSW residents.
He made his debut in 2008 and kicked four goals in a 24-16 win and, a year later, skippered the side and scored all of their points in a 34-6 loss.
Both games were played at Suncorp Stadium and Maloney said the experience was invaluable.
"It gave me a bit of a taste, but this will be a massive step up," he said. "The crowd up there were pretty hostile and that was just for the curtain raiser but it was good to play in that kind of environment."
Maloney credits his good form to becoming a father young and admitted he didn't always help himself with how he behaved away from the field.
"It's a case of happy off the field, happy on it," he said.
"They have had a calming effect on me instead of running around and acting like a goose which is what I used to do.
"It is nice to share the success with them when you are settled and things are going well off the field - it all correlates."