James Maloney on life at Catalans during French lockdown


Maloney has four young children aged from 10 to one and a patient wife, Jess. He is a known pest and Catalans coach Steve McNamara said he sympathised with Jess.

“Imagine being trapped in the same house with Jimmy for all that time?” McNamara said. “I think Jimmy is getting that bored he’s starting to get on his own nerves.”

For all the deaths and fear caused by COVID-19 across Europe, Maloney said he and his family felt relatively safe. He lives in the beachside suburb of Torreilles, which is about a 15-minute drive from Perpignan. The weather continues to hover around 20 degrees.

“Nobody seems too stressed,” Maloney said. “We’ll chat to the neighbours and the kids will throw the ball back and forth over the fence. It’s quite relaxed where we are.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in the yard with the kids, teaching them hopscotch and how to skip. As much as you’d love to leave the house and go to different places, we’re also getting some quality time with the kids.

“Even me and Jess have had a few nights where we’ve put the kids down and then had a drink together – we’ve had some cracker nights just me and her in the lounge room having a few drinks.

“It’s just nice to be around and when the kids say, ‘Dad, can you do this or that?’ and now I actually can.”

McNamara has made a point of telling his players this is one of the few moments during their professional careers they will enjoy uninterrupted time with loved ones.

“Whether you’re a player or coach, I’ve told them your mind is now free to focus on being a good dad or husband for a long period,” McNamara said. “Even in the off-season, when you’re not working or training, your mind is still working and you can be preoccupied.”

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Maloney said he’d had a couple of runs to the local beach – four kilometres away – and most of his teammates had got in first to take home the weights from the club gym. He has had to rely on his wife as a training partner so he can work out in the backyard.

A horse lover and punter, Maloney said he had limited access to online gambling, struggled to watch the races and gave up punting after a dud tip at Randwick last weekend.

Maloney said club officials had told the players everything would be done to ensure they remain paid while the UK Super League is suspended. Organisers hope the competition can resume by late June or July with a potential finish in November.

High-profile Catalans teammate Israel Folau is also in lockdown. Maloney was unsure what the former Wallabies star would do beyond this year.

“He’s a handy player to have in your team – there’s a good reason he was one of the highest-paid players in Australian rugby,” Maloney said. “He’s got ability and hasn’t lost it.”

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