MAROONS playmaker Johnathan Thurston has called rival five-eighth James Maloney a "rat" and tailor-made for State of Origin.
While Thurston admits to being surprised New South Wales has handed Maloney his first Blues jersey over incumbent Todd Carney, he expects the Roosters No.6 to be a handful.
The Maroons veteran believes NSW went with Maloney for the series opener in Sydney on Wednesday because of the excellent understanding he has with Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce.
The duo has formed a lethal combination at the Roosters and Thurston feels Maloney has a positive effect on Pearce.
"Jimmy's got a really calming influence on Pearcey and that's helping his game," the Cowboys star said.
"And Jimmy's just a rat and loves it. "He's made for this arena, no doubt.
"He'll thrive on it. It's his debut game and we all need to apply a bit of pressure to him."
Set to play his 25th game for Queensland, Thurston is obviously a Maloney admirer.
"He's just got that niggle in his game," Thurston said.
"He loves the contact, he loves to run the ball. He's got a fair bit of lip on him as well."
There is a chance Thurston will not get a chance to provide Maloney with an Origin baptism of fire.
Fiancee Samantha Lynch is heavily pregnant with their first child and Thurston has committed himself to being by her side and missing Origin I if need be.
He is confident it will not come to that, and what is more, his long-time partner does not want her man to get distracted.
"We're very confident it won't come on Wednesday," he said.
"She's really good, Samantha. She said before I left to make sure I concentrate and do a job down here and making sure that I prepare the best that I can.
"Everything else on the home front is pretty good at this stage."
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