After a 13-year career spanning over six clubs which concluded in the South of France, retired playmaker James Maloney has opened up on his journey.

James Maloney has had a remarkable rugby league career, he achieved success as a premiership winner with the Roosters, contributed to the Sharks premiership, and witnessed the early stages of the Panthers dynasty.

Moving to France to join the Catalans in the Super League led Maloney to distance himself from the NRL, which he discussed with Fox League. Maloney admitted to only tuning into NRL matches during the finals and State of Origin, signalling to him that it was time to retire in 2021.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 05: James Maloney of the Panthers makes his point to the referee during the round four NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Wests Tigers at Panthers Stadium on April 05, 2019 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“It probably helped that I was able to finish on my own terms. I made the call, it was no one else,” Maloney said when asked about his retirement call to Fox League.

“I was over at Catalans, had another year to go on my contract but just mentally wasn't there.

“My body felt all right but I just didn't have the mental edge in the head to go through another pre-season. Since I've hung them up, I have not wanted to play another game.”

Maloney has clearly emphasised that his decision to retire was primarily driven by his mental well-being. The now 37-year-old enjoyed a successful NRL career, participating in 247 games and securing two premierships.

Coaching and becoming a mentor were never an initial part of Maloney's post-NRL career plans. Nevertheless, he has now taken on the role of assistant coach for the Cowboys and admitted his time working with a younger group at the Panthers drove him to consider taking up coaching in his post-playing career.

“I didn't really think about coaching or anything until I got to Penrith. There was just such a young squad and I think they just naturally came to you for advice,” he said.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19: James Maloney of the Panthers kicks through for the try to Nathan Cleary during the round 18 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Panthers Stadium on July 19, 2019 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Upon joining the Panthers, Maloney brought along an affluence of achievements and was looked up to by the young, up-and-upcoming players in the now unstoppable Panthers side.

“Then I remember guys making debuts, in the dressing sheds beforehand getting tingles and hairs on the back of your neck standing up, going ‘I remember when this was me," he added.

“That's when I started sort of thinking about maybe that's the rewarding side of coaching."

Maloney's eye-opening moment to consider the opportunity to join the coaching staff at the Cowboys stemmed from his final two years playing in the NRL with the Panthers.

Following his departure from the club in 2020, Jarome Luai stepped into the full-time five-eighth role, and alongside Nathan Cleary, they formed the most impressive halves combination in the competition.