Maloney jab sparks footy feud

Phil Rothfield has defended himself after copping a spray from Penrith playmaker James Maloney on Twitter.

Maloney took aim at the senior News Corp journalist on Monday afternoon, after reports suggested the Panthers veteran looked unhappy and may leave the NRL to finish his career in England.

“Just needed to clear that up as I feel these comments reflect badly on the type of person I am and are completely untrue,” Maloney tweeted.

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Rothfield defended the story, and defended the decision not to call Maloney directly before publishing the news.

“It was the night before the game, I didn’t want to disturb him so I rang his manager Wayne Beavis,” Rothfield told NRL 360.

“I said he doesn’t look happy, he’s not talking happy at pressers, he’s not playing happy … and Wayne Beavis said that’s a fair observation, but he’s not happy because he’s not winning.

“I didn’t say in any part of the copy that he’s dirty at not being the captain. Jimmy’s taken it the wrong way.

“I think he’s a great player, but I think he needs a phone call from Freddy (NSW coach Brad Fittler like he did last year to lift himself for Origin.”