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Fittler backs embattled Blues halves

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has declared he’s likely to stand by embattled Panthers halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney for Origin One at Suncorp Stadium. 

The Panthers have endured a disappointing start to their 2019 NRL season with just two wins from their first seven games despite many suggesting they will be among the premiership heavyweights under new coach Ivan Cleary. 

There are a few blokes that are pushing but they need to play better, without a doubt.

Brad Fittler.

Although (Nathan) Cleary and Maloney have struggled for consistency, Fittler admitted he is likely to remain loyal with the incumbent halves pairing when asked if he was to pick a squad at this point in the season. 

“Most probably, yeah,” Fittler said on Channel Nine’s Sports Sunday.

“We’re still four weeks away and it would be nice if they were playing better, but blokes like Cody Walker and Luke Keary, they’re playing fantastic, and Adam Reynolds (as-well).

“So there are a few blokes that are pushing but they need to play better, without a doubt, (but) we have four weeks to go and they need to get better.”

Although their form has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with the Panthers struggling to score points in attack, Fittler gave a frank, yet positive admission when asked about their recent performances.  

“(Their form is) actually the best it’s been I thought the other night out at Penrith," Fittler said. 

“There were a few things that went wrong and I don’t think their attack was the thing that necessarily went wrong. 

"Their discipline is still incredibly poor.”

The Panthers will look to end their three-game losing streak when they take on the Canberra Raiders next Saturday.