Maloney to leave Panthers for Super League side Catalans
Penrith Panthers star James Maloney will leave the NRL club at the end of the season to pursue a lucrative opportunity in the Super League.
The Panthers confirmed Maloney's looming exit on Wednesday, with the veteran playmaker to join Catalans Dragons.
New South Wales representative Maloney has signed a three-year deal with the France-based outfit after being granted a release from the final year of his Panthers contract.
The 33-year-old – who has won two NRL premierships and amassed almost 250 games – moved to Penrith from Cronulla Sharks in 2018.
"James has made no secret of his sincere desire to finish his rugby league career with a stint in the Super League," Panthers chairman Dave O'Neill said.
"Considering the outstanding service he has given to Panthers over the last two seasons and to our game over the last decade, we believe he has earned that right.
"The overseas opportunity recently offered to James, his wife Jess, and their young family is one they are genuinely excited about pursuing together.
"When we farewell James at the end of the season, we will do so knowing he has made an incredibly positive impact on our club and the next generation of players who will carry it forward."
Speaking at a news conference, Maloney told reporters: "Really excited about the opportunity, really grateful to Penrith for giving me the opportunity to take up the deal over there. Excited to finish the season off.
"It's always hard to leave anywhere because you become really good friends with the group. I've loved my time at the club and I'll look back with really good memories of my time here.
"But obviously I'm not getting any younger and the opportunity to come [to Catalans] arose and it's hard to knock back. It's always been the goal to go over in the Super League and to play at Catalans and live in France was always the preferred option.
"I've been pretty open that it's always been a goal. I'm 33 now and footy doesn't last forever and I've got a few years over there. That will finish me off and it's always been the plan.
"It probably came a year earlier than what was originally thought, but even still, we're excited about it. I've left the club in a better position than when I arrived … Hopefully the club's benefitted from having me here and I've enjoyed my time here."