Maloney signed to fill Stacey Jones' boots at Warriors
The New Zealand Warriors have moved to plug the hole created by Stacey Jones' impending retirement by signing rugby league utility James Maloney for next season.
The Melbourne halfback-standoff has been contracted to the Auckland-based National Rugby League (NRL) club on a two-year contract with an option for a third season in 2012.
Maloney, 23, has made four NRL appearances for the Melbourne Storm this year.
"Once Stacey indicated he wasn't keen to play again next year, we made it clear we would be signing another half to boost our depth," Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said today.
"We've been interested in James for some time and we're delighted we've been able to come to terms with him so quickly."
Maloney joined Melbourne this year after a stint with Parramatta, making his first-grade debut at standoff in the Storm's fifth-round 16-14 win against Penrith in April.
He started at No 6 in two of his other three NRL matches while his other appearance was off the bench.
Last year he led Parramatta's feeder club Wentworthville to the New South Wales Cup premiership and this year he has been guiding Melbourne's feeder side Central Coast in the same competition.
He was also selected in the New South Wales Residents side for their match against Queensland Residents in the curtainraiser to last month's final State of Origin match in Brisbane.
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary described Maloney as a goalkicking playmaker with plenty of ability.
"With Cooper Cronk at the Storm and then Brett Finch being signed, it hasn't been easy for James to get much time in the NRL," Cleary said.
"He has played a lot of his football at halfback but also plays at No 6, which he has done at NRL level. He's also a very good goalkicking option.
"We've seen a bit of him and every time he's lined up against the Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup he has looked one of the best players on the park.
"His signing gives us more options in the halves after learning we won't have Stacey next year."
Apart from Maloney and fellow new signing Brett Seymour, the Warriors' other contenders in the halves next season include Joel Moon, Isaac John and Aaron Heremaia.