In six years at Castleford Tigers, the towering prop only made sporadic appearances and just glimpses of what he could potentially do, spending plenty of time on loan at the likes of Oxford, Batley Bulldogs, Keighley Cougars and Halifax.
However, now in his second season at Roves following a move from Wheldon Road, the Cumbrian is starting to establish himself as a Super League forward. Maher hopes to make his fifth successive appearance for Tony Smith’s side when they head to Wigan Warriors this evening and continue his recent progress.
“Those experiences of being in and out at Castleford and a few loan spells gave me a solid foundation for this year,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone thinks they’ve ever made it as a player but this year does feel a lot different.
“I do feel a lot more established and a lot more comfortable in my role.
“I feel like I’m progressing each game and I can’t stand still now.
“Tony (Smith) is not a coach who is going to allow you to rest on your laurels; he wants us to keep striving to improve.
“That’s what I want to do. I’m hoping to get better and better as the weeks go by.”
Maher has certainly benefited from being in a stronger pack than the one that finished bottom last year with Albert Vete – who is set to return from injury at Wigan tonight – and Korbin Sims arriving from the NRL to offer more strength.
But Maher wants to advance further personally and added: “I want to improve defensively, move around the park as well as I can and maybe a bit of third man efficiency so I can save a little bit of energy in tackles.
“With the ball, just be as big a handful as I possibly can and make as many metres for the team as I can.”
Rovers – who are missing four players for Covid-related reasons – will need him to do that particularly tonight against a Wigan pack widely regarded as one of the toughest in Super League.
But Maher insisted: “It’s situational; every game is tough and I generally don’t tend to look at opposition players.
“I just know my role in the team is to get forward, move around the pitch well and defend well. I’m a cog in a 17-man team.
“As long as I get my part right I’m happy.”
Out of contract at the end of the season, he hopes to do enough to persuade Smith to extend his stay at the East Yorkshire club.
A rare win at Super League giants Wigan this evening could help as further evidence he is worthy of one.
Rovers are in good form having won three of their last four games but their title-chasing opponents have won each of their last dozen meetings in Wigan with KR’s last success at the DW Stadium being as long ago as May 2009.