Former Warrior James Maloney gives Panthers an edge over his old team in battle of the halves

Penrith are starting to feel the James Maloney effect take hold as they finalise preparations for tonight's elimination final against the Warriors.

Maloney will run out for his eighth NRL finals series in nine years at ANZ Stadium, and become just the fourth playmaker to play finals at four different clubs come kick off at ANZ Stadium.

In an incredible record across the NRL, Maloney won premierships in his first season at the Sydney Roosters and Cronulla in 2013 and 2016 respectively.

And as he prepares to enter a finals series as captain for the first time, Panthers coach Cameron Ciraldo said he'd stood up even more at training over the past fortnight.

"James is our captain and leader. He's got the most experience than anyone in our team so we look for him in those situations," Ciraldo said.

"Just the energy he's had at training and preparation the last two weeks especially has been contagious.

"I think everyone's been vocal the last two weeks, we've been after a good performance so that's been seen from our senior players.

"They're talking a lot more and becoming more involved in preparation."

Tonight's clash will represent a significant battle of the halves.

The Panthers looked a far better team against Melbourne last week with Maloney and Nathan Cleary back on the field together, as the NSW State of Origin pairing only managed to play half the year together due to injuries.

Prior to this year, Maloney was the best foil Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson had consistently had at club level, as the pair partnered together in the lead up to the 2011 grand final.

But the Warriors livewire has built a similar combination with Blake Green this year, who will return from a calf strain.

"I think Blake's probably got a similar influence on their team to what James Maloney has on ours," Ciraldo said.

"Mason Lino did a really good job stepping in for him and he's a capable player.

"Having Green come back into their side is a big boost and we're going to have to be good to stop him."

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 11:  James Maloney of the Panthers passes during the round 22 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Penrith Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
James Maloney. Source: Getty


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'I just want to protect my family' - Sam Burgess hopeful NRL finalises investigation into sexting scandal soon

An emotional Sam Burgess thanked his wife, family and club for their support during the NRL's investigation into a sexting scandal, suggesting the truth will come out before South Sydney's preliminary final on Saturday.

Burgess addressed reporters on Tuesday, speaking publicly for the first time about allegations lewd images were sent to a young woman from one of his social media accounts earlier this year.

The Englishman refused to discuss specifics, reiterating throughout the 12-minute press conference he is "happy for the truth to come out" but unable to comment publicly because the league's integrity unit is still probing the matter.

Burgess expects the NRL will finalise its investigation within 24-48 hours.

The 29-year-old possess some of the broadest shoulders in the league but it was clear on Tuesday the allegations, made public on the eve of the Rabbitohs' semi- final against St George Illawarra, have taken some toll.

Burgess struggled to speak at the start of Tuesday's interview then became deeply emotional when discussing his heavily-pregnant wife Phoebe.

"I just want to protect my family in this whole thing," Burgess said.

"I just want them to be safe and happy and with my current situation at home (photographers and TV cameras camped outside), there's no chance of that.

"I'm not angry. What hurts me the most is seeing my wife upset about what's out there.

"I've been in situations before, dealt with much harder things in my life ... and football has always been great for me.

"My poor family, they don't have the distraction I do. I will be fine come game time."

The league is in the final stages of its investigation.

Burgess could yet be suspended but Souths' talismanic forward, who won the Clive Churchill medal in their 2014 grand-final victory, is very much preparing to play the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.

"There's a lot of important things going on at the moment. I've got some serious football games in front of me, this process we're going through," he said.

"It's been a tough process to go through ... as someone said earlier, a bit of a circus.

"Fortunately I've got a strong wife.

"My teammates have been fantastic. We all have challenges at times. We get through them, we grow. It's brought us together.

"I'm grateful that two of my brothers are in the team ... I've got plenty of support around me."

Asked about the timing of the story about the incident in May, Burgess replied "you can make your own assumptions".

Burgess insisted he wasn't "running away and hiding from what's out there" but had to respect the integrity unit's process.

"I'm not going to put myself into a position that's going to get me into trouble," he said.

Burgess hopes the issue will be solved in the next two days. Source: 9 NEWS Sydney


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Young NRL star Nathan Cleary to sign big contract extension to stay with Panthers - report

NRL star Nathan Cleary is reportedly poised to sign a contract extension to stay with Penrith until at least the end of the 2023 season.

Clearly, who has previously said he would wait until November 1 to engage in contract discussions, will pen a new deal with the club in next 48 hours, reported NRL.com.

The four-year extension will reportedly make him the Panthers' highest paid player, and bump up his salary for the final season of his existing contract.

Panthers supremo Phil Gould hinted on Monday night that the 20-year-old halfback intended to commit his long-term future to the club sooner rather than later.

"It'll get done shortly," he told Nine's 100% Footy.

Off contract at the end of next season, Cleary has seemingly turned his back on fielding offers from rival NRL clubs who were unable to come negotiating table before November.

The NSW State of Origin series winner has spoken openly about his career ambition to one day play under his father, Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary.

The Panthers' season, sidetracked by the sacking of coach Anthony Griffin just four weeks out from the finals, came to an end with a one-point loss to Cronulla on Friday.

Cleary could have levelled the semi-final with a late field goal but his attempt sailed wide.

Nathan Cleary
Nathan Cleary Source: Getty


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Watch: Sam Burgess speaks about Rabbitohs' Auckland sexting scandal - 'I'm happy for the truth to come out'

South Sydney superstar Sam Burgess hopes the NRL's integrity unit will finalise its investigation into the sexting scandal, which has engulfed the club, within the next two days.

Burgess addressed reporters today, saying he's keen for the "truth to come out" about allegations lewd images were sent to a young woman from one of his social media accounts, after a match earlier this season.

"While the investigation is going on we've been told to publicly make no comment ... I'm following the process," Burgess said before Saturday's preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters.

"I'm not going into the detail of anything.

"I'm happy for the truth to come out.

"That's going to be my answer to the majority of your questions.

"Hopefully within 24 hours, 48 hours I think it should be resolved."

The saga has overshadowed the Rabbitohs' preparations for their grand final qualifier against their traditional rivals at Allianz Stadium.

Burgess thanked his friends and family for their recent support during a "tricky few days".

"It's been a tough process to go through, (for) the family together, but fortunately I've got a strong wife," he said.

"A wife who loves me. I've got great family, great friends, great support around me.

"You do feel it but I've had certain experiences in my life before, had serious emotions I've had to deal with, and football has always been great for me."

Burgess hopes the issue will be solved in the next two days. Source: 9 NEWS Sydney


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Broncos star treating match against Warriors as Kiwi Ferns trial - 'Everyone is in the running to get a black jersey'

They call her The Jukebox because when damaging Brisbane back-rower Teuila Fotu- Moala takes the field, the hits keep coming.

And the New Zealand star has vowed to be on song in Friday's NRL Women's Premiership final round clash with the Warriors in Melbourne, likening it to a Kiwi Ferns trial.

Fotu-Moala - player of the 2017 Women's World Cup - has been the key to a perfect season start for Brisbane who can seal a grand-final berth with a third straight victory.

But Fotu-Moala is also eyeing off October's Auckland Test against the Jillaroos and hopes to stake a claim by overcoming Warriors back-rower Onjeurlina Leiataua.

"It's almost like a Kiwi Ferns trial because everyone is pretty much in the running to get into that black jersey at the end of the season," she said of the October 13 Test.

"The biggest match-up for me would be Onjeurlina.

"She's explosive, strong, powerful and eats a lot of metres. She's one to watch out for."

Fotu-Moala is good mates with Leiataua and knows the bulk of the Warriors squad after they played together in the Auckland competition.

That won't earn them any favours on Friday at AAMI Park in the curtain raiser for the Melbourne-Cronulla NRL preliminary final.

"When we saw that we were playing the Warriors I knew I had to get more aggressive this week," Fotu-Moala said.

"I need to do what I can to match them because they will be coming for us, I know that.

"Maybe some of us will be targets for them.

"It's mixed feelings (playing mates). I have a soft spot for my friends - off the field, not on the field."

Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack. Kiwi Ferns v England, Women’s Rugby League World Cup Semi Final at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney, Australia on 26 November 2017. Copyright Image: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack for the Kiwi Ferns against England. Source: Photosport


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