RUGBY league immortal Andrew Johns has warned of the perils Penrith could face by uniting Ivan and Nathan Cleary as a father-son coach and player combination.
Cleary Snr. will be unveiled on a five-year contract by the Panthers as early as Monday, making them the NRL’s first long-term father-son combination since John and Martin Lang at Penrith in 2004.
More recently, Shane and son Kyle Flanagan worked together at Cronulla, but the latter is still in his early stages and played just one first grade game.
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OFFICIAL: Maguire named as Tigers boss0:00
NRL: The Wests Tigers have officially released Ivan Cleary from his contract and announced the arrival of Kiwi coach, Michael Maguire.
But in the Clearys the Panthers have the future of their club, with Nathan also locked in as their halfback on a five-year deal that will keep him there until the end of 2024.
“Me personally I would’ve hated being coached by my father,” Johns told the Nine Network.
“There are times when players want to give it to the coach for whatever reason, and I don’t know how it would be if Nathan was somewhere after training or one of the players got dropped was like: ‘You know what, Ivan’s such a Wally.’ “And Nathan hears that, and you hear someone bagging your father it can be hard to put a difference on whether he is talking about your dad as a person or coach.” Ivan and 20-year-old Nathan have long indicated their desire to work with each other, with the main question having been if it would be at the Panthers or Wests Tigers.
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Panthers can see Cleary now0:00
NRL: The coaching carousel is drawing to a close, with reports that Ivan Cleary has bid farewell to his Wests Tigers players and advised them that Michael Maguire will be their new boss.
But Johns had concerns on how it would play out both ways.
“And then I’m sure there are times when a coach goes home and says: ‘What about Joe Bloggs, he doesn’t do this or doesn’t do that or doesn’t listen’,” Johns said.
“And then that’s one of Nathan’s good friends.” The pair’s situation at Penrith is unique in the fact that as halfback Nathan will also shape as the club’s key player for the majority of Ivan’s tenure. They are one of several father-son coaching combinations to have been prominent in Australian sport, however rarely have they worked out — with the Langs and basketball’s Lindsay and Andrew Gaze the big exceptions.
Originally published as ‘I would’ve hated it’: Johns warns of Cleary combo at Penrith
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