James Maloney tackles the Warriors' Bunty Afoa. Credit: Fox Sports
James Maloney tackles the Warriors' Bunty Afoa. Credit: Fox Sports

Expert clears Maloney for Origin decider

NSW coach Brad Fittler will be sweating on the availability of match-winning playmaker James Maloney for Game III despite a former match review chairman 'clearing' the five-eighth of a chicken wing tackle.

The Penrith veteran was penalised but not placed on report for an ugly incident on Bunty Afoa in the first half of Sunday's controversial golden point 19-18 win over the Warriors.

With Brad Fittler set to name his team on Monday and bench forward Tariq Sims already facing a suspension, it would be a disaster for the Blues if Maloney was also rubbed out.

Maloney had a blinder after getting a recall for Origin two in Perth, and having a charge hanging over Maloney's head now would be especially concerning given the fact that halves partner Nathan Cleary is struggling because of an ankle injury.

There is no doubt what Maloney did was not a good look and he would have had a nervous night awaiting today's match review committee charges.

But McCallum reviewed the incident at the request of The Daily Telegraph and he reckons it should not result in a charge.

"I think he will be OK because he fell off at the critical moment when the arm would have gone to its maximum bend," McCallum explained.

 

 

"He certainly had a go at him. He certainly worked his arm and locked it with both of his arms but at probably the critical time he fell off the tackle. He didn't let go, he fell off.

So, in my opinion, he will probably just be OK."

But McCallum said he "felt a bit sorry" for Sims who is facing a two-match ban for his crunching hit on Michael Morgan in St George Illawarra's win over North Queensland.

The incident resulted in a war of words between rival coaches Paul McGregor and Paul Green, with the Dragons coach upset his Cowboys counterpart brought up the incident to the media post match despite being critical of Fittler for doing a similar thing recently regarding Josh McGuire.

James Maloney argues with Gerard Sutton. Picture: Getty
James Maloney argues with Gerard Sutton. Picture: Getty

The Dragons are expected to announce today that they will fight the charge.

McCallum believes Sims should not have copped a grade two charge and should have a strong case if he fronts the NRL judiciary.

"I feel a bit sorry for Tariq Sims," McCallum said.

"I think a grade two is probably a bit stiff.

"I think it was careless. He certainly made contact with (Morgan's) head but nothing more than careless I thought.

"I didn't think he did a great deal wrong."

A grade one charge has a base penalty of 100 points which would have meant an early guilty plea would not have resulted in a suspension.