James Maloney wants to see more effort from the Panthers.
James Maloney wants to see more effort from the Panthers.

Maloney blames 'soft options' for Panthers woes

PENRITH star James Maloney has accused his side of taking "soft options" throughout their NRL form slump, admitting they've not been mentally tough enough.

Among the early-season favourites, the Panthers have slumped to 12th on the ladder with just two wins from their opening six games.

They gave up a 20-6 lead with 18 minutes to go to lose 24-20 against Cronulla on Thursday, while they let in 30 against Gold Coast the week before.

"I think we're taking the wrong option too many times," Maloney said on Monday.

"We're not mentally tough enough at the moment and not working hard enough.

"There are all sorts of other excuses you can come up with about combinations and missed opportunities and stuff like that.

"But there are too many times when we look at the video that across the board we are taking soft options and that needs to change."

Penrith's problems have been varied to start the season.

The Panthers have recorded just two wins in the opening six matches. Picture: AAP
The Panthers have recorded just two wins in the opening six matches. Picture: AAP

They scored just 39 points in the first four rounds before their attack found form, while their troubles in the middle are highlighted by the fact they've run for the least metres of any team.

Ill-discipline is also an issue, having conceded the third most penalties, while fouls off the ball in attack have killed momentum in two defeats.

Maloney said such matters could be categorised into one problem.

"It's just soft options I think," Maloney said.

"Just effort areas is what we're talking about. There are too many plays where we're not working hard enough.

"Discipline is something we have to fix up. We're copping a bit of a hammering there and again that's stuff in our control, we need to be cleaner there."

Dean Whare is the latest player struck down by a hamstring injury. Picture: Getty Images
Dean Whare is the latest player struck down by a hamstring injury. Picture: Getty Images

The Panthers took another blow on Monday, with centre Dean Whare ruled out for up to four weeks with a hamstring tear.

Maloney admitted he was mentally knocked by Thursday's late capitulation, but said the squad needed to lift before Friday's home clash with South Sydney.

"I don't think I have been as knocked around for a while as after (the) game on the weekend. They're hard to take," the five-eighth said.

"(The mood in the side) is as good as it can be when you're losing footy games. Your moods go with the result of weekend performances.

"But that's probably a bit of a lesson in the mentality we need to get.

"We need to get a little more headstrong and wear any criticism that comes. You need to man up and change it."

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