Blues selector Greg Alexander has launched a passionate defence of the NSW's out-of-sorts Origin halves James Maloney and Nathan Cleary.
Wearing his Penrith hat as a board member of the club, an animated Alexander took exception to claims Maloney and Cleary were responsible for the Panthers' dismal two-from-nine start to the 2019 NRL season.
Grilled on Fox Sports about the pre-season fancies' horror opening, Alexander turned the blow torch from Maloney and Cleary to their under-performing teammates and their "unbelievable" error rate.
"There's absolutely no problem between the halves," Alexander said.
"Jimmy Maloney's as good a halfback as he is a five-eighth.
"As to why (the combination) is not working, I'll go back to the rest of the team - sometimes it's very hard to work or click or have rhythm when the test of the side isn't playing well.
"You (the halves) just get seemed to get pulled along.
"If you're dropping as much ball as we are, it makes it extremely difficult."
Alexander was also adamant a lack of fitness wasn't to blame for Penrith's poor start, despite claims new coach Ivan Cleary hadn't worked the Panthers as hard in the pre-season as his sacked predecessor Anthony Griffin.
"I've watched them train," said Alexander, the club's 1991 premiership-winning captain.
"I've listened to what other teams are doing - there's not a stack of teams who run marathons (pre-season).
"They've got a base. Believe me, they're fit enough.
"Fitness is not the problem at Penrith."
"It's more an attitude problem.
"If you go through the games and watch it as much as I do, Penrith that is, you will find a number of periods where they have looked good individually - and sometimes even combined - but it's not happening enough. It's not enough."