James Maloney will join Penrith Panthers until the end of the 2020 season

Panthers pride: James Maloney has been announced as a Penrith Panther for the 2018 season, with his contract keeping him at the foot of the mountains until at least 2020.
Panthers pride: James Maloney has been announced as a Penrith Panther for the 2018 season, with his contract keeping him at the foot of the mountains until at least 2020.

The NRLs worst kept secret has been confirmed with NSW playmaker James Maloney signing for the Penrith Panthers.

The 31-year-old has played with four clubs previously, tallying 203 games and 58 tries.

He is a multiple premiership winner, having won in 2013 with the Sydney Roosters and with the Cronulla Sharks in 2016, as well as leading the New Zealand Warriors to the decider in 2011.

Maloney said he was looking to continue the success with the Panthers in the coming season.

“Panthers has the roster and the resources to achieve success over the coming years and I’m really excited to now be part of that,” Maloney said.

“The squad has a strong forward pack for me to play behind, plus some young and talented players coming through in the outside backs.”

Maloney has also had success at the representative level with nine State of Origin games for NSW and four Tests for the Kangaroos.

He is no stranger to Nathan Cleary, the man assumed to be his halves partner next season, after previously playing under Ivan Cleary at the Warriors.

“I’ve actually known Nathan for a long time because he was my ballboy at the Warriors,” Maloney said.

“I’m looking forward to playing alongside him and hopefully helping him take his game to the next level.”

It is hoped that the experience of Maloney in the halves will help the 20-year-old Cleary and a young back-line including 21-year-old fullback Dylan Edwards.

The move also completes what has essentially been a swap between the Panthers and Cronulla Sharks with former Penrith captain Matt Moylan moving to the Shire.

“James Maloney is an exciting acquisition for Panthers,” Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould said.

“He has regularly succeeded at the highest levels of our game and brings a wealth of experience. It’s a real vote of confidence in the potential of our club that James has chosen to play with Panthers.

“We are truly delighted to welcome him to Penrith.”

Maloney will join the club for pre-season training in January after recently participating in the Australian Kangaroos’ successful World Cup campaign.