Maloney looks the man

  • By: Ian Millward
  • Last Updated: October 6 2013, 10:42 BST

Our columnist Ian Millward previews Sunday morning's Grand Final in Australia's NRL.

James Maloney can star in the NRL Grand Final
James Maloney can star in the NRL Grand Final

Sunday

Sydney v Manly +4 (0915BST)

I think this is a tougher game to call than the Super League equivalent. I'm with the Roosters to win and cover but Manly have been there and done it before. They've shown through the play-offs that they're the most professional team in the competition. They're meticulous in their preparation and attention to detail.

However in the Roosters they face a side with an outstanding defence. Incredibly in seven games this season they haven't conceded a single point, a club record.

The interchange bench will play a key role here - like Old Trafford - and the Roosters look to have more quality and leg speed in their quartet. Apart from the replacements it's hard to split these two - they match up very evenly at full-back, centre, half-back, hooker, all the key areas. However in the replacement forwards I just feel my selections have more punch and mobility.

Crucially too the Roosters have had a more straightforward route to the final. Manly have had to get up off the canvas on more than one occasion in the play-offs and freshness could be a huge factor in the final quarter.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is my pick for first try scorer. He is always a threat and has unbelievable footwork with a good right and left step. He is one of the most feared players in the NRL.

Questions have been asked all year of the Roosters half-backs, the Origin pair Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney but they have really come to the party of late.

Maloney in particular has caught the eye and he looks ready to take the Jonathan Thurston role in years to come. He was one of the Roosters' marquee signings and can reward their confidence with a man of the match display.

  • Posted at 1535 BST on 03/10/2013.