Penrith's James Maloney speaks to the media in Sydney on Wednesday. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Penrith's James Maloney speaks to the media in Sydney on Wednesday. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

Maloney departing NRL with a message on dangers of asbestos

PENRITH star James Maloney always knew his late father would have been proud of the playmaker's NRL path.

His career has included two premierships, three grand finals, eight finals series and 14 State of Origins for two series victories.

But as the clock ticks down on the end of his playing career in Australia on Sunday against Newcastle, Maloney has made the move to honour his father off the field as well.

There's little doubt the origins of Maloney's football talents had come from his dad, Brian.

Maloney Sr was a star in his own right, moving from southwest Sydney to be captain-coach of Orange in his prime.

He finished his career on the central coast, before helping to raise Maloney.

Maloney's father never saw his son play first grade.

A carpenter by trade, he died of asbestos poisoning in 2009 just before Maloney debuted for Melbourne.

"He passed away at the start of the year before I debuted," Maloney told AAP.

"It's always a shame he didn't get to see it but he would have been proud as punch."

Which is why Maloney's last message before leaving Australia won't be the larrikin type he's renowned for.

It will be a more serious one via a television advertising campaign, in conjunction with law firm Turner and Freeman.

"With the shows like The Block and the home renovating, there are a lot of people doing DIY home renos that aren't aware of the fact fibro has asbestos in it," Maloney said.

"So there are still a lot of cases popping up of people that just aren't aware.

"It's more an awareness and public service announcement to try and combat it - to make people aware of the dangers.

"I'm sure Dad would be proud of me being able to do that and create a bit of awareness around it."

Penrith players are determined to make Maloney's last NRL match, against Newcastle, a memorable one.

The 33-year-old is the only half in the game's history to have taken three clubs to grand finals and has been among the most influential players of the past decade.

He will fly to France next month to begin training with Catalans in the Super League.

"He's had a massive career," Penrith captain James Tamou said.

"He's great on the field, influential and puts his body on the line.

"He's great with young players and is always checking in with them to make sure they are okay.

"It's a massive game this weekend. I think the main thing will be to send him out a winner."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* James Maloney has kicked the most goals in Australian rugby league history (772)

* He needs 16 points to enter the game's top-10 leading point-scorers

* Newcastle winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall needs one try to go equal 20th on the league's list of scorers with fellow Kiwi Nigel Vagana.

News Corp Australia

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