Robinson hopes Maloney’s form deserts him tonight
IT sounds ludicrous, but Roosters coach Trent Robinson has been delighted with the form of his former five-eighth and current Sharks star James Maloney this year.
He just doesn't want that to continue when both teams meet at Allianz Stadium tonight.
Maloney has been sensational for Cronulla in 2016, helping it to 13-straight wins and earning selection in this year's New South Wales outfit.
It comes after the 30-year-old had steered the Roosters to the 2013 premiership.
"It's not (hard to see Maloney going well at the Sharks) because Jimmy contributed heavily to our success," Robinson said.
"We like seeing former players do well (but) hopefully he doesn't do well (tonight)."
Despite the nice sentiment, there's no doubt the Roosters have missed Maloney's toughness, skill and creativity this year.
He has produced seven try assists for Cronulla, while the Bondi club still hasn't settled on a halves combination.
The five-eighth from last round's heartbreaking 22-18 defeat to the Eels - Jackson Hastings - has been dumped for tonight's game.
Ryan Matterson - a 21-year-old NRL rookie at 103kg who Robinson believes will cause more damage to the Sharks defence - will instead wear the No.6 jersey.
The Roosters - in 15th place - have a massive task ahead of them against the league's front-runners.
But the tricolours have lost eight games this season by four points or less, and that includes nail-biting defeats to the Warriors, Bulldogs and Eels in their past three starts.
"The last three games we've ... possibly played better than the opposition but they've had a better last 10 to 20 minutes," Robinson said.
"That's been tough but ... it also means we're not far off."
The Roosters will also have Aidan Guerra available, cleared of a knee injury from last Wednesday night's third Origin.
Meanwhile, bullocking Sharks prop Andrew Fifita will miss tonight's clash due to suspension for lashing out at Queensland's Gavin Cooper last week.
- JOSH SPASARO