Masked Panther: Jimmy burns Buzz

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Penrith five-eighth James Maloney has shamed Daily Telegraph reporter Phil Rothfield on Twitter, forcing ‘Buzz’ into a two-day social media hiatus and into an embarrassing backdown. It came after Rothfield used his ‘What’s The Buzz’ column last weekend to claim Maloney was not happy about being dumped as Penrith captain and was likely to quit the club at the end of the season. Maloney hit back, saying: “If u wanna write an article Phil feel free to pick up the phone and call me like every other journalist does before making up blatant lies”. Maloney said any suggestion he was unhappy about losing the captaincy was “bull***t”. On ‘NRL 360’, Rothfield tried to backtrack on his original comments and later phoned Maloney to clear the air.

There’s a big rumour doing the rounds at the moment about Tyrone Peachey wanting to return to Penrith. Peachey wanted to stay at the Panthers beyond last season but in the end stuck by his word to join the Gold Coast Titans on a lucrative deal. With Ivan Cleary back at the helm and Phil Gould now out of the picture, Peachey’s return to the foot of the Mountains would not be totally out of the question.

Talking of player movements, I’d expect Dylan Edwards to be playing NRL elsewhere by the end of the season. With Caleb Aekins coming into the Penrith side last weekend, it would appear Edwards is suddenly the club’s third choice fullback and now faces a tough road back into first grade.

Phil Gould is adamant that the club is in good hands despite his exit. In his column for The Sun-Herald, Gus said: “Our current board of directors are an amazing group of men: all true Penrith people, all tremendously successful in their own right, now lending their passion and expertise to the Panthers. The club is in very good hands. These people, led by Chairman Dave O’Neill and Panthers Group Chief Executive Brian Fletcher, will guide Panthers towards what I’m sure will be a long and prosperous future.”

Phil Gould is departing the Penrith Panthers

Talking of Gould, it didn’t take him long to clear out his office at Panthers after his sudden departure last week. That’s mainly because he didn’t have an office, or even a desk for that matter. Gould did all his work on his trusty mobile phone.

Ivan Cleary insists he had no issue with Gould, but something’s certainly happened in the past week or so to brighten up the coach. His two most recent press conferences have been more lively and open than anything he’s done this year.

Security at Panthers Stadium had to deal with an unusual situation last Friday night when a fan smuggled a pet poodle into the ground in her handbag. Word is the dog doesn’t like being left alone and the die-hard supporter didn’t want to miss the crucial clash against the Rabbitohs, so she brought the pet along with her. After a brief discussion, the fan was escorted out of the ground.

The Panthers opted to fly to Wagga for Saturday’s game against Canberra instead of endure a five hour bus trip. But not everybody could fit on the flight – the club’s media manager Evan Sieff and photographer Jeff Lambert have been assigned a lengthy road trip. We hope somebody has organised the snacks.

Former Panthers captain Peter Wallace appears to be having a tough time staying off the field. Now one of the club’s trainers, Wallace has been fined several times by the NRL for being on the field too long or at the wrong time during matches.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, Nathan Cleary remains the top contender for the Blues’ halfback spot for this year’s Origin series, despite his questionable form this season. Blues coach Brad Fittler last weekend confirmed that Cleary and James Maloney remain the front-runners for the halves spots, but admitted he wanted to see some sharp improvement from both. I’m told Maloney is still the most likely of the duo to miss out, with Fittler believing Cleary will be his long-term number 7.

Spotted: Panthers captain James Tamou grabbing a pizza and a can of Sunkist at Glenmore Park Domino’s last Saturday night.

Spotted: Former Panthers halfback Jamie Soward switching codes and enjoying the hospitality at the Western Sydney Wanderers’ awards night on Tuesday.

There was an unusual situation when Tyrone May faced court in Penrith on Wednesday morning. The magistrate assigned to the case, Geoff Hiatt, has removed himself from future involvement with the matter. Mr Hiatt is the son of John Hiatt, a retired magistrate who spent many years on the Panthers’ Board.

Hooker Sione Katoa submitted an early guilty plea to a ‘Dangerous Contact’ charge from last weekend’s game against Souths. He won’t miss any game time.

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