Masked Panther: Maloney set for Origin recall

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SOS James Maloney. After being forced to watch Origin I from his couch last week, it’s highly likely that Maloney will be named in Brad Fittler’s Blues team for Origin II in Perth. Maloney, who turns 33 on Saturday, has made no secret about his desire to play for the Blues again after partnering with Nathan Cleary to guide Fittler’s team to a series win last year. With a short preparation for the Perth game and Cody Walker failing to fire in Origin I, it’s highly likely Fittler will go with the club combination of Cleary and Maloney to help save the series.

James Maloney is set to continue his Origin audition. Photo: Megan Dunn

Penrith releasing Dallin Watene-Zelezniak last Friday came as no surprise, but what was a shock was the announcement that he’d be joining the Bulldogs on an 18 month contract. The 23-year-old winger had been linked with the Eels, Tigers and Cowboys but the Bulldogs barely rated a mention. I’m told North Queensland did show heavy interest and in fact Watene-Zelezniak may have got himself a better deal in Townsville, but a desire to stay in Sydney won out in the end. While the terms of his departure from Penrith are being kept confidential, I’ve been told the Panthers paid very little towards Watene-Zelezniak’s Bulldogs deal.

Which journalist was on the end of a not-so-nice phone call from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak over the long weekend?

With the rep round next weekend, you can expect player movements to ramp up as squads are shuffled and settled ahead of the June 30 deadline. For Penrith, the big question is whether Tyrone Peachey’s return to the club will be finalised. Officially, the club is telling me it’s “highly unlikely”, but like most I think we’ll see a deal done for the 27-year-old to quit the Gold Coast and return home. The retention and recruitment committee that is now in charge of player movements and the salary cap at Penrith is yet to meet on the Peachey issue, and is unlikely to discuss the matter until next week.

Tyrone Peachey. Photo: Melinda Jane

Waqa Blake to the Eels? That was the rumour doing the rounds after an article published in News Corp papers last weekend. I’ve been able to confirm that Parramatta are legitimately interested in Blake, who is currently on the sidelines with a knee injury, but Penrith are keen to keep him. Of course, money talks and if the Eels are persistent, you never know what could happen – this is rugby league after all.

Thirsty fans are unhappy that the club has removed the temporary bar that was previously in place underneath the western grandstand at Panthers Stadium. It’s been missing for a few games now but with such a big crowd in attendance last Sunday, its loss was felt by those waiting in long bar lines. The temporary bar has been replaced by a gozleme van.

His son may be quickly emerging as a fan favourite at Penrith, but Mitch Kenny’s dad is finding it hard to let go of his Wests Tigers loyalties. “I grew up a Tigers fan, my dad is Tigers tragic. He still wears his Wests Tigers jersey to every one of my games,” Kenny told Extra Time. “He wore a Tigers jersey to my debut – Penrith vs Parramatta. He just doesn’t stop, the man’s insane.”

The NRL Integrity Unit will determine the short-term playing future of Tyrell Fuimaono after he plead guilty to a charge of hindering police. No conviction was recorded when he faced court.

Tyrell Fuimaono. Photo: Penrith Panthers

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