Infotainment Factory: Why Panthers legend has lost hope

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Friday, 15 March 2019

Why Panthers legend has lost hope


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“I don’t buy into it,” said James Maloney at a Panthers pre-season training session as he reflected on the impact last season’s coaching saga had on the playing group.

Anthony Griffin’s sacking just four weeks out from NRL finals saw Penrith dragged through weeks of instability as their title hopes faltered under conjecture that saw them succumb to a tale of too little too late, but that wasn’t the story for Maloney.

“At the end of the day we’re all professional athletes, we get paid to play footy,” he asserted.

“I think all of it externally, probably seemed a bigger deal than what it felt like internally. I don’t think as a playing group it really affected us at all.”

James maloney

To an extent, he is right. From the outside, much is made of the inner workings of the 16 clubs that comprise the NRL, but when those issues spill out into the public sphere as they have at the Panthers over the past two weeks, do those sentiments still hold true?

Just 11 days after Maloney made his comments Penrith would find themselves at the centre of one of the ugliest scandals to befall the NRL.

Maloney’s remarks have been tested through the prism of Tyrone May, Tyrone Phillips and Liam Coleman’s sex tape scandal that has rocked the club just days out from the start of the 2019 season.

With the playing group lacing their boots amid a house in disarray, club legends Mark Geyer and Ryan Girdler are at odds over the Panthers’ premiership hopes with the club’s first game only a day away.

Nathan Cleary

“You’ve got to throw some question marks over their premiership hopes now because you don’t know how this is going to affect the playing group,” Geyer exclusively told Wide World of Sports.

“It’s only human that the other players who aren’t involved in this are affected by it too by the constant media scrums at training and the innuendo of who’s involved and things like that.

“It’s definitely going to affect them … because of that black cloud that’s going to be over their head for the first month maybe.”

Their 20-point shellacking at the hands of last year’s wooden spooners Parramatta in a trial match that happened on the eve of the sex tape scandal stands testament to a team that had “something on their mind”.

“Now we know they did,” Geyer added.

Panthers v Eels Preview: Round 1

But it couldn’t be a more different picture for his former teammate Girdler, whose comments seem a hark back to Maloney’s pre-season ponderings.

“I can’t imagine it really affecting results down the track to be honest,” he exclusively told Wide World of Sports.

“So as far as I’m concerned I think the playing group will push on through it and do what they do best and play footy.

“I think a lot is made of these incidents outside of the playing group to be honest.

“These guys are paid professionals. The ones who have made errors will be sanctioned, but the rest of the playing group will just get on with doing what they’ve been paid to do.”

Tyrone May

Time will tell if or how much damage has been done by the saga but one thing is for sure, how much “hurt” has been absorbed by the club’s general manager Phil Gould.

“From a club perspective and a personal perspective, it’s been like a thunderbolt, to be honest,” Gould said on his podcast Six Tackles with Gus.

“I always had a nervous gut feeling that things weren’t right in our club, for a long time. There were things that I just couldn’t explain.

“There was a gut feeling I had about our club and our players that just wasn’t sitting well with me. I couldn’t put my finger on what was happening, or wasn’t happening.”

Gus' 'feeling of dread'

From serious title contenders to being plunged into damage control, it’s the last thing the Panthers supremo would have envisaged just days out from the start of the 2019 season with last year’s woes seemingly put to bed.

Geyer insists the real damage has been the emotional toll inflicted on the 60-year-old.

“As Gus gets older, these players that he nurtures become more like sons to him,” Geyer said.

“Every time someone says something or does something or hurt themselves Gus feels it.

Gould 'shattered' over sex tape scandal

“He knows that no one is perfect and he coached me when I wasn’t perfect as well, but he’s identified this as more than just a rugby league problem, it’s a societal problem.

“But still he’s hurting bad.”

Penrith face Parramatta Eels on Sunday afternoon in their first hit out of the season at Panthers Stadium.

“I don’t buy into it,” said James Maloney at a Panthers pre-season training session as he reflected on the impact last season’s coaching saga had on the playing group.

Anthony Griffin’s sacking just four weeks out from NRL finals saw Penrith dragged through weeks of instability as their title hopes faltered under conjecture that saw them succumb to a tale of too little too late, but that wasn’t the story for Maloney.

“At the end of the day we’re all professional athletes, we get paid to play footy,” he asserted.

“I think all of it externally, probably seemed a bigger deal than what it felt like internally. I don’t think as a playing group it really affected us at all.”

James maloney

To an extent, he is right. From the outside, much is made of the inner workings of the 16 clubs that comprise the NRL, but when those issues spill out into the public sphere as they have at the Panthers over the past two weeks, do those sentiments still hold true?

Just 11 days after Maloney made his comments Penrith would find themselves at the centre of one of the ugliest scandals to befall the NRL.

Maloney’s remarks have been tested through the prism of Tyrone May, Tyrone Phillips and Liam Coleman’s sex tape scandal that has rocked the club just days out from the start of the 2019 season.

With the playing group lacing their boots amid a house in disarray, club legends Mark Geyer and Ryan Girdler are at odds over the Panthers’ premiership hopes with the club’s first game only a day away.

Nathan Cleary

“You’ve got to throw some question marks over their premiership hopes now because you don’t know how this is going to affect the playing group,” Geyer exclusively told Wide World of Sports.

“It’s only human that the other players who aren’t involved in this are affected by it too by the constant media scrums at training and the innuendo of who’s involved and things like that.

“It’s definitely going to affect them … because of that black cloud that’s going to be over their head for the first month maybe.”

Their 20-point shellacking at the hands of last year’s wooden spooners Parramatta in a trial match that happened on the eve of the sex tape scandal stands testament to a team that had “something on their mind”.

“Now we know they did,” Geyer added.

Panthers v Eels Preview: Round 1

But it couldn’t be a more different picture for his former teammate Girdler, whose comments seem a hark back to Maloney’s pre-season ponderings.

“I can’t imagine it really affecting results down the track to be honest,” he exclusively told Wide World of Sports.

“So as far as I’m concerned I think the playing group will push on through it and do what they do best and play footy.

“I think a lot is made of these incidents outside of the playing group to be honest.

“These guys are paid professionals. The ones who have made errors will be sanctioned, but the rest of the playing group will just get on with doing what they’ve been paid to do.”

Tyrone May

Time will tell if or how much damage has been done by the saga but one thing is for sure, how much “hurt” has been absorbed by the club’s general manager Phil Gould.

“From a club perspective and a personal perspective, it’s been like a thunderbolt, to be honest,” Gould said on his podcast Six Tackles with Gus.

“I always had a nervous gut feeling that things weren’t right in our club, for a long time. There were things that I just couldn’t explain.

“There was a gut feeling I had about our club and our players that just wasn’t sitting well with me. I couldn’t put my finger on what was happening, or wasn’t happening.”

Gus' 'feeling of dread'

From serious title contenders to being plunged into damage control, it’s the last thing the Panthers supremo would have envisaged just days out from the start of the 2019 season with last year’s woes seemingly put to bed.

Geyer insists the real damage has been the emotional toll inflicted on the 60-year-old.

“As Gus gets older, these players that he nurtures become more like sons to him,” Geyer said.

“Every time someone says something or does something or hurt themselves Gus feels it.

Gould 'shattered' over sex tape scandal

“He knows that no one is perfect and he coached me when I wasn’t perfect as well, but he’s identified this as more than just a rugby league problem, it’s a societal problem.

“But still he’s hurting bad.”

Penrith face Parramatta Eels on Sunday afternoon in their first hit out of the season at Panthers Stadium.

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