James Maloney makes NRL return in coaching capacity following four-year spell in France

Drew Darbyshire
James Maloney Catalans Dragons Alamy

James Maloney in action for Catalans Dragons in 2021 - Alamy

Former Catalans Dragons star James Maloney has returned to the NRL to become an assistant coach with the North Queensland Cowboys.

The 37-year-old, who has agreed a two-year contract with the Cowboys, will work under head coach Todd Payten as well as his fellow assistants Justin Morgan and Ben Rauter.

Maloney returns to his Australia homeland after spending the last four years in France with Catalans Dragons and Lezignan.

The two-time NRL Premiership winner retired from playing professional rugby league at the end of the 2021 season, with Catalans going down to defeat to St Helens in the Grand Final in his final game for the Dragons.

But Maloney did play on for two more years in a semi-professional capacity in the French Elite Championship for Lezignan, where he was a player-coach.

The former Australia international made 247 appearances in the NRL for Melbourne Storm, New Zealand Warriors, Sydney Roosters, Cronulla Sharks and Penrith Panthers before heading over to Super League, which included Premierships with the Roosters in 2013 and the Sharks in 2016.

North Queensland Cowboys excited about the ‘new dimension’ incoming assistant coach James Maloney will bring

Maloney, who made 14 appearances for New South Wales in the State of Origin arena, will link up with the Cowboys immediately.

Cowboys general manager of football Michael Luck said: “We are excited at the prospect of the new dimension James will add to our programme.

“With an experienced assistant in Justin Morgan coming on board this year, we made the decision to target a younger coach with recent experience on the field to focus on our attack.

“We met with Jimmy in Townsville last week and we were impressed with how he presented and the ideas he had to improve our team.

“He will be an excellent sounding board for our spine, in particular our young halves in Tom Dearden, Tom Duffy and Jake Clifford.”

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