James Maloney has expressed sympathy for the plight of his Cronulla teammate Andrew Fifita, after he was banned from the Australian side due to off-field issues.
Maloney earned selection in Mal Meninga’s 24-man Kangaroos squad after a stellar NRL season that culminated in Cronulla’s maiden premiership win but admitted he was shocked to win a first international call-up.
But Maloney also said his thoughts were also with Fifita.
“I understand Mal and the decision he has made but I am extremely disappointed for Andrew,” Maloney said.
“On form he would be here for sure.
“Unfortunately that is not the case.”
Fifita played six Test matches for Australia in 2013 after a breakout season.
Maloney backed the 27-year-old, who scored the match winning try in Cronulla’s grand final win over Melbourne. to return to the green and gold.
“He will be back here at some point.” Maloney said.
“He played a massive part in our premiership win. He had no right to score that try.
“I am shattered for him. But he will be right. He will be back.”
Fifita was banned from the Kangaroos squad over his support for coward-punch killer Kieran Loveridge.
Semi Radradra was also banned from the touring party ahead of a court appearance on domestic violence allegations.
Maloney warned that the NRL was setting a dangerous precedent.
“What if nothing comes of it?” he said
“What if they aren’t convicted and they have missed opportunities and have done nothing wrong?”