NRL: Ex-Warrior James Maloney zeroes in on Kangaroos debut

James Maloney of the Sharks makes a break during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images
James Maloney of the Sharks makes a break during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images

James Maloney could be rewarded for his stellar NRL season with a spot on the Kangaroos bench for Saturday's Test against New Zealand in Perth.

Cronulla five-eighth Maloney was a key figure in the Sharks' maiden NRL premiership win.

He is being considered by coach Mal Meninga as a utility interchange player for the clash against the Kiwis.

Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk are automatic selections in the Kangaroos halves. But Thurston said he could see Maloney making his Australian debut from the bench.

"Jimmy could do that easily, he likes the contact part of the sport so he could fill in a number of positions if need be," Thurston said on Monday "It is a tough decision for Mal to make."

However, former Warriors five-eighth Maloney will face stiff competition for that bench utility spot from North Queensland playmaker Michael Morgan.

Morgan has played off the bench in the role under Meninga for Queensland and the Kangaroos.

Meninga has other selection decisions to make.

Trent Merrin appears in line to assume Corey Parker's lock position. Shannon Boyd is likely to start at prop alongside Matt Scott in the absence of Aaron Woods, who like Josh Mansour gets married on Saturday.

- news.com.au

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