Freddy tells Maloney to fix his de­fence

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT -

BLUES coach Brad Fit­tler phoned Pen­rith Pan­thers five-eighth James Maloney to ex­press con­cerns about his po­si­tion in the NSW State of Ori­gin team be­cause of 63 missed tack­les this sea­son.

Fit­tler spoke to the two-time premier­ship-win­ning play­maker in the lead-up to Thurs­day night’s game against Wests Tigers, in which he im­proved and missed only one tackle.

“I raised my con­cerns with him,” Fit­tler said. “For his ex­pe­ri­ence, I thought he could be do­ing bet­ter for Pen­rith. That’s why I rang. I’ve still got a lot of love for the Pan­thers.

“I said to him, ‘it’s about work­ing with the team­mates around you’. I was watch­ing him come out of the line and they seemed to pick him off pretty easy.”

Despite re­ports to the con­trary, Fit­tler in­sists he still has no idea who will be the NSW halves.

“I hon­estly haven’t picked them,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you with any con­fi­dence.”

Fit­tler’s se­nior ad­viser, Greg Alexan­der, makes no secret of the fact that Maloney is his favourite NRL player. Fit­tler said he is also a huge fan. “Courage has never been Jimmy’s prob­lem,” Fit­tler said. “No doubt about that.

“I’m not sure about the Wests Tigers game be­cause they didn’t throw that much at them. He didn’t have to make a de­ci­sion.

“He’s been fan­tas­tic for Pen­rith but they’ve had the eas­i­est draw by far. They’ve had Par­ra­matta twice, Can­ter­bury twice and the Cow­boys twice.

“Next week is the big one. Pen­rith against the Drag­ons.

“It’s set up beau­ti­fully for me, as long as they don’t hurt each other.

“They’re the best two Syd­ney teams.”

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