IN news that will surprise nobody, the Penrith Panthers have announced Ivan Cleary will joined the club as NRL head coach on a five-year deal.
It’s been a week of speculation about the coach, who was released from the Tigers on Sunday morning as the side signed Michael Maguire.
The 47-year-old returns to Panthers following a two-year stint at the Wests Tigers.
Cleary previously coached Panthers between 2012 and 2015, guiding the club to a Preliminary Final appearance in 2014 before he was sensational sacked in 2015.
“I am very fond of Wests Tigers and all its people,” Cleary said.
“I enjoyed my time there and it is a club heading in the right direction. I would like to thank Justin Pascoe and Marina Go for their professionalism throughout.
“I am honoured to be back as head coach of Panthers and very much look forward to being part of the future journey.
“Personally I had a feeling of unfinished business with a club and a community that my family and I enjoy a strong connection with, from grassroots through to NRL players, staff and management.
“We have raised our family in the community for a number of years and are proud to call it home.”
Ivan Cleary during his last stint as Penrith Panthers coach.Source:News Corp Australia
Panthers Group CEO Brian Fletcher said the Panthers Board is confident Cleary will help the club achieve its full potential on and off the field.
“The Panthers Board is delighted with the appointment of Ivan Cleary as head coach for the next five years,” Panthers Group CEO Brian Fletcher said.
“The talent and depth in our playing squad means our club is well-placed to push for a premiership and we believe Ivan is the coach to take us there.
“Our players and staff have always maintained immense respect for Ivan, which speaks volumes about the quality of his character.
“It is with a renewed sense of excitement that we look forward to the 2019 NRL season and beyond.”
Cameron Ciraldo and Peter Wallace will take on NRL assistant coach responsibilities at Panthers in 2019, with pre-season training officially commencing on Monday 12 November.
It was reported Cleary sent a text message to Tigers players over the weekend to reveal he wouldn’t be at the club anymore before Maguire was announced as the new head coach.
The Cleary’s — dad Ivan and son Nathan — will get to fulfill their desire to work together.Source:Getty Images
But 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.
“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.
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.
— with AAP
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