Revealed: James Maloney to quit Panthers
Penrith and NSW five-eighth James Maloney is ready to quit the NRL after this season and sign a rich three-year deal with French Super League club, Catalans Dragons.
Well-placed sources in France have told The Daily Telegraph a deal has been struck and could be announced as early as today.
Maloney, 33, is under contract at Penrith until the end of next season but has repeatedly spoken about his desire to finish his career in Super League.
His NRL career is now just about over.
Catalans sources claim the deal is financially healthy and would rival, if not outdo, his Panthers contract.
Maloney has enjoyed a stellar NRL career with stints at the New Zealand Warriors, Melbourne Storm, Sydney Roosters, Cronulla Sharks and now the Panthers.
He also played 14 games for NSW, the most recent a successful game-three decider in Sydney earlier this month.
The Daily Telegraph has been told English giants Leeds Rhinos had also expressed an interest in Maloney, who is preparing for Sunday's big match against Canberra at Panthers Stadium.
Maloney claimed just last weekend he would "silly" not consider a new long-term deal overseas.
"Well they reckon the lifestyle's outstanding over there (France)," Maloney told Triple M.
"It's always been the goal to finish up with a stint over there (Super League) and we've always sort of thought, in terms of lifestyle, the south of France would be a little better than the north of England.
"Whether it happens immediately for next year or whether we're looking at when the Penrith deal expires, it's definitely on the radar."
Just recently, Catalans coach Steve McNamara hinted his club was poised to make a major singing.
"I said last week that we wouldn't be making wholesale signings but we will be making one or two significant signings - certainly one," McNamara said.
"We will see what the next few weeks brings.
"I'm a big fan of Jimmy, I coached him at the Roosters. He is a great character and a great player. He is a champion player and I know him well."
Maloney won two premierships - the 2013 title while a Sydney Rooster and the 2016 grand final with Cronulla.
Penrith players will conduct media interviews on Wednesday where they are expected to reveal a desire to send Maloney out a winner this year.
Cheeky reports emerged over the past 48 hours that Maloney may head to Brisbane Broncos.
"Look, there's no doubt he's a big game winner but I think there's a thing called the salary cap and there's only certain clubs who could probably afford to buy James Maloney, Broncos isn't one of those," Broncos director Darren Lockyer told Nine.