One thing is certain; decibel levels will drop dramatically. Life after James Maloney will be quieter and, possibly, less entertaining.
Maloney's cheeky, cocky Australian twang will be sorely missed at the Warriors. His absence is sure to be felt, not just in the eardrums, and by no-one more than halves partner Shaun Johnson.
"He will leave a pretty big void with the noise around the place," Johnson chuckles.
Maloney arrived as an unknown Melbourne Storm recruit, but will leave as one of the most respected standoffs in the NRL, a tribute to the Warriors faith in him.
Once stuck behind Cooper Cronk, Maloney wasn't always this confident.
But his first-grade stature and ability has grown to match the prominent jibes.
"Jimmy is going to be hugely missed," Kevin Locke said. "The boys just trust him. He runs unbelievable lines. He's just a hard-nut white boy." Just over one year into their cohesive, intuitive understanding, Maloney and Johnson's budding partnership will soon cease. The halfback will be forced to start again when the Sydney Roosters-bound playmaker departs at the end of this season.
The contrasting duo first linked in June last year after Brett Seymour's injury troubles. Since then, they have been inseparable.
"Jimmy has been a bit unheralded over the last month or so," coach Brian McClennan said. "He's probably the key bloke we need standing up over the next few weeks to get us home."
With Johnson on the left and Maloney on the right, the Warriors' organisational shape, finishes to sets and attack has flourished. No longer are they a predictable bomb-to-Manu-Vatuvei team. But that successful transformation may be difficult to replicate and sustain.
"We are both on the same page with what each other are doing now and making things run smoothly. It's definitely improving. We've been scoring plenty of points. The attack is falling into place," Maloney said, admitting to mixed emotions about ending ties with Johnson and the club.
"We are starting to find joy linking up together through the middle of the park when the big boys are starting to tire. It would have been nice to keep playing with Shaun because he's only going to get better."
Though it's slightly premature to print Maloney's boarding pass, there is a growing sense of loss.
Both Johnson and Maloney feel, only now, the potential of their combination is starting to bloom. Only now, are they starting to scratch the surface. It is a shame, then, their dynamic, collaborative talents won't have more time to develop.
"Jimmy and I are good mates," Johnson said. "We are just starting to grow as a combination. We've been pretty good this whole year. We are getting really familiar with how each other plays. It's coming along nicely. We are always talking.
"It's going to be sad to see him leave. But he's doing it for all the right reasons so you've got to go with him on that. Hopefully I can smack him up next year." Johnson isn't sure who he will team up with next, Thomas Leuluai or Junior Warriors standoff Carlos Tuimavave, though it is likely to be the former.
With Johnson having never met, or spoken to Leuluai, adjustments will be required.
"I'm not too sure what they are going to do to replace him [Maloney].
"He's a leader in the team. Hopefully I can step up and take more leadership next year.
"I don't know too much of him [Leuluai]. I've watched him as a kid, but I haven't talked to him before. It will be interesting. I'm sure he'll fit in."
For once, asked about his replacement next year, words escape Maloney.
He pauses, backs Johnson to take over the reins, and considers opposing him in a Roosters jersey.
"Hopefully, I don't get him one-on-one with too much space. He'll probably leave me for dead with the footwork. It will be a good challenge when it comes," he said, smiling.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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