Matt Moylan vs James Maloney - Chad Townsend can't separate the pair as battle of the sixes looms in Cronulla Sharks vs Penrith Panthers elimination semi-final

Special bond: Chad Townsend and James Maloney won a premiership as Cronulla's halves pairing in 2016. Picture: John Veage
Special bond: Chad Townsend and James Maloney won a premiership as Cronulla's halves pairing in 2016. Picture: John Veage

Much has already been made of the battle between Matt Moylan and James Maloney on Friday night but the man who has played alongside both of them in the black, white and blue says there is very little between the two as players.

Cronulla face a do or die elimination semi-final against Penrith at Allianz Stadium with many eyes on the opposing number sixes.

Maloney and Moylan were representing Cronulla and Penrith this time last year before an off-season swap saw the Sharks’ 2016 premiership-winning five-eighth head to the foot of the mountains.

Moylan, the Panthers’ captain, headed in the opposite direction, setting up camp in the shire.

Chad Townsend won a competition with Maloney as halves partners and, while Moylan took some time to find his feet, the pair have started to develop a dangerous combination.

Townsend said Maloney and Moylan were similar players with a couple of key differences.

“To be honest Moysa has probably got a bit more x-factor in him than Jimmy,” Townsend said.

“Jimmy’s got a bit more of a kicking game than Moysa. If I was to compare the both of them that’d probably be the biggest difference,

“That’s probably the only difference. They’re both very skillful, quality players. I’m really enjoying my time playing with Moysa, I feel like the last month we’ve really hit our straps in terms of our combination.”

As much as he enjoyed their time together, Townsend said he is keen to test himself again against Maloney.

“I always like playing against Jimmy. I played with him for a few years obviously. I know his game really well. I’m looking forward to that battle, definitely,” Townsend said.

“I know the way he plays and how he likes to play. Throughout the year earlier on [I] tried to take it to him a little bit so, a bit of friendly banter and things like that. It’s going to be a big game no doubt.”

Townsend said he expected Moylan to continue his good recent form and that the new Sharks No.6 could end up being the difference.

“Obviously him playing against his old team and I think the last time we played against Penrith out there I think he had his best game of the season,” he said.

“We’ll be looking for that type of game from him.”