Masked Panther: England switch still on for Maloney

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Hero Penrith and NSW half James Maloney is still on track to leave the club at the end of the season, with a long-term deal in England calling. Maloney is contracted to Penrith for next season but it has always been expected that the 33-year-old would leave a year early and finish his career in the Super League. Despite his stunning form of late, Maloney’s departure is still looking likely. He’s more than comfortable with moving on, while Penrith know they can’t ask Jarome Luai to be patient for another full season. It’ll be Luai and Nathan Cleary in the halves for Penrith next season.

James Maloney. Photo: Megan Dunn

Spotted: A well-dressed Manly Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler walking down High Street in Penrith on Tuesday afternoon.

The NRL has admitted The Bunker got it wrong when it awarded Warriors winger David Fusitu’a a try in the 42nd minute of Sunday’s clash with Penrith in Auckland. “That was an error. In some ways… not an understandable error, but you can see why that was missed in the first instance,” NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley said. Annesley said there was enough evidence available to rule no-try.

Meanwhile, Graham Annesley also confirmed that Jarome Luai should not have been sent to the sin-bin for an incident involving Roger Tuivasa-Sheck early in the second half of Sunday’s game. “Given that it’s not a try-scoring situation it should not have been considered a professional foul that resulted in the sin-bin,” he said. Annesley also confirmed that Penrith’s Liam Martin returned from the sin bin too early due to “human error”, with the matter under investigation.

Graham Annesley addressing the media.

Former Penrith hooker Kevin Kingston and current Panthers General Manager Matt Cameron will speak at a Men of League function in Penrith next Friday. The pair will offer tremendous insight at the event, which will cost $30 to attend and include food, a drink and a ticket to the Panthers v Titans game. The event starts at 3pm at Panthers Leagues Club.

Scoop confirmed: I told you last week that a development player was likely to be promoted into Penrith’s top squad before June 30. On Friday, the club confirmed that 18-year-old prop Spencer Leniu had moved into the top 30 and is now immediately available for NRL selection. Leniu started the season in Jersey Flegg and has since been elevated to the Canterbury Cup side. Those in the know suggest Leniu is almost a certainly to make his NRL debut later this season.

To cap off what’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Spencer Leniu, the teenager was this week named in the NSW Under 20s side to take on QLD at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night. Fellow Panther Stephen Crichton is also in the team. NSW will be hoping to avenge last year’s 30-12 loss to QLD at Suncorp Stadium, which was their first loss since the Under 20s concept started in 2012.

I’m still expecting Tyrone Peachey to be back in Penrith colours next year despite a much-hyped mid-season switch not eventuating. Peachey is unhappy at the Titans and his family wants to return to Sydney. The Panthers are keen to have him back on deck but couldn’t reach a financial agreement with the Titans, who are paying the 27-year-old over-the-top dollars. In the end, Peachey may have to take a pay cut for the deal to happen – but I’m confident the switch I first told you about in early May will eventually get there.

Tyrone Peachey in action for Penrith in 2018. Photo: Megan Dunn

Israel Folau’s controversial social media post back in April has angered many, but there’s also plenty of support for the former Wallaby. Young Penrith half Jarome Luai is amongst the 73,000 people who have ‘liked’ Folau’s much discussed post on Instagram.

Congratulations to Sam McKendry and his wife Kirsten who are expecting the arrival of their third child in mid-October.

Nathan Cleary was surprisingly ruled out of State of Origin III on yesterday despite every indication that his ankle would be fine for the series decider at ANZ Stadium next week. Mitchell Pearce has been brought into the squad and now gets the ultimate shot at redemption and glory in the New South Wales jumper.

The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has charged 17 players – including Panthers star Josh Mansour – with misconduct for breaching its operational rules in relation to events surrounding last month’s Test against Fiji. Those charged will be asked to appear before a Misconduct Panel and have been suspended with immediate effect from all Lebanese rugby league activity pending the outcome of misconduct proceedings. It seems the game in Lebanon has descended into farce and they’ll likely disappear from the league landscape.

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