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Nathan Cleary $5.00 to build upon an excellent 2017 at the Panthers

Posted on 06/03 by Joe Gann

Nathan Cleary $5.00 to build upon an excellent 2017 at the Panthers
James Maloney should provide the perfect foil for Nathan Cleary this season

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Nathan Cleary is the man likely to benefit most from the acquisition of James Maloney, but under-fire coach Anthony Griffin will also be counting his blessings after securing the experienced halfback’s signature. Maloney brings with him proven title-winning credentials courtesy of his 2013 and 2016 triumphs with the Roosters and Sharks and his presence will bring a measure of poise and consistency to a side that is crying out for such qualities.

For Cleary, the competition’s highest point-scorer in 2017 and youngest player to ever score 200 points in a single season, the opportunity to learn alongside one of the NRL's prominent competitors should see his game continue to blossom following an outstanding first full year in first grade. His haul of eleven tries and ten try assists was the catalyst behind the Panthers’ finals run, and his game should go from strength to strength in 2018.

It’s possible that the pair could be involved at representative level if their partnership takes off, with Cleary tipped to fight it out with Mitchell Moses this year for a spot in the Blues’ Origin squad.

For the Panthers, a good start to the season is essential, particularly for Griffin, after last year’s dismal opening that saw the mountain men win just two of their first six games. The season was rescued only after a late-season rally that ultimately secured a seventh-placed finish, but the club will be expecting a more comfortable passage this year.

Rumours of player unrest haven’t helped matters, and the departures of local boys Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright has intensified the focus on the coach, but a solid start will help ease the pressure for Griffin.

The bonus for the side is that they produced their best footy of the season at the tail end of the year – a run achieved without their former skipper – and the hope is that they can take the improved form from the latter part of 2017 into the new campaign.

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