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Maloney sure he's leaving Penrith in young and enthusiastic hands

The James Maloney farewell tour returns this week with the Penrith star making his last visit to Suncorp Stadium.

But there's not a great deal of sadness as Maloney got a good glimpse into the Panthers' future after watching three debutants help beat an star-studded team like the Sharks last weekend.

"Not a lot of sentimentality up there really, but it is a very important game for us to win," Maloney said of the round-22 game against the Broncos on Friday.

"It lines up a lot like last week with Cronulla…. Sitting close to us on the ladder."

Penrith in seventh and the Broncos in eighth are separated by one competition point.

"It's another game we need to win. There are only four left and we probably need to win three to get in."

Maloney was on the sidelines last Friday with a one-week suspension for tripping – something he's still a little dirty about.

Panthers veterans react to teenage debutants

"I thought I'd get off otherwise I wouldn't have contested it. But it wasn't the case."

But that enforced absence opened the door to Canterbury Cup call-up Matt Burton, who is not yet part of the Panthers top-30 or NRL development squads.

"I hadn't seen too much of him but I watched him closely on the Wednesday night session – yes, really impressive," Maloney said after Panthers training on Monday.

"I knew he was going to be good. I had no doubts he'd do the job. He's a kid with a really bright future."

The several positional kicks for touch were completed without fuss – just simple faith in his ability.

Match Highlights: Panthers v Sharks

"I said that to Ivan [Cleary] after I watched Matt on Wednesday night … and that was what I was looking at – his ability to go out and do his stuff.

"As a young kid coming through, in terms of skill-set and football in him, I haven't seen much better.

"He obviously got man of the match in the NSW under 20s as a 19-year-old and everyone can now see why. He's a really good kid."

It was probably only a one-off for Burton now with Maloney back on deck and the fact Penrith needs NRL permission to play the 19-year-old from Dubbo, who plies his trade in Canterbury Cup.

But Maloney knows Burton will be around in 2020 with Jarome Luai to offer help to Nathan Cleary in the halves.

Burton celebrated his NRL debut with a win alongside other first grade first-timers in centre Stephen Crichton and forward Spencer Leniu. Winger Brian To'o is only nine games into his career.

"It's one thing that's easy for the young boys to do and that's bring energy, enthusiasm and excitement into the team," Maloney said.

"Whenever we've had these young kids come in they spur you on. If you've got that energy there and you're working also on the technical improvements, then you're pretty hard to beat."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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