Infotainment Factory: Cleary lifts lid on Panthers homecoming

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Saturday, 10 November 2018

Cleary lifts lid on Panthers homecoming


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Ivan Cleary has broken the silence on his return to Penrith, saying there was a sense of unfinished business at the club following his departure in 2015.

After taking the New Zealand Warriors to the grand final in 2011, Cleary was handed the head coaching role at Penrith in 2012 before being unceremoniously sacked in October 2015, but he admitted that he holds no hard feelings for the Panthers' brains trust in making that decision.

"It was a decision that was made but it's in the past," Cleary told NRL.com.

"The funny thing is though, when I got the approach to come back that was always going to be the last piece for me to process.

"I needed to know that it was OK and that the club really wanted me back."

Following the dismissal of head coach Anthony Griffin in August, speculation was rife about Cleary joining his son Nathan at Penrith, but the 47-year-old insisted that the reasons for his return were beyond the presence of his son on the Panthers list.

"Firstly, the situation with Nathan is only part of it. It wasn't the be-all and end-all," he said.

"My decision was not made because Nat is staying at Penrith – yes, it is part of it, of course.

"It was more like, I don't think you can ever wait in rugby league if you actually want to do something. Opportunities only knock once and that was the case here.

"I never, ever thought this opportunity would come. It was a complete shock to me – a shock that I'd be going back to Penrith and a shock I could link with Nat so soon.

"But definitely going back to Penrith was the stronger shock. When I left the Panthers I had a real sense of unfinished business."

Following the announcement of Clearly's return to Penrith on a five-year deal commencing in 2019, the former Wests Tigers coach has received criticism from parts, and he admitted that he understood people who may be angry at his abrupt departure. 

"The fans are the lifeblood of our game and I completely respect their passion. I was a fan once too so I get it," Cleary told NRL.com.

"There will be a range of emotions that fans feel. I've already had some Tigers fans come up to me, and while they're disappointed I'm leaving, they thanked me.

"But of course there will be other Tigers fans that think the complete opposite and I understand that too.

"I would say to them that they've got a really good club to follow and that the club is in a really good position – a really strong and intelligent leadership and the future is going to be very bright."

Ivan Cleary has broken the silence on his return to Penrith, saying there was a sense of unfinished business at the club following his departure in 2015.

After taking the New Zealand Warriors to the grand final in 2011, Cleary was handed the head coaching role at Penrith in 2012 before being unceremoniously sacked in October 2015, but he admitted that he holds no hard feelings for the Panthers' brains trust in making that decision.

"It was a decision that was made but it's in the past," Cleary told NRL.com.

"The funny thing is though, when I got the approach to come back that was always going to be the last piece for me to process.

"I needed to know that it was OK and that the club really wanted me back."

Following the dismissal of head coach Anthony Griffin in August, speculation was rife about Cleary joining his son Nathan at Penrith, but the 47-year-old insisted that the reasons for his return were beyond the presence of his son on the Panthers list.

"Firstly, the situation with Nathan is only part of it. It wasn't the be-all and end-all," he said.

"My decision was not made because Nat is staying at Penrith – yes, it is part of it, of course.

"It was more like, I don't think you can ever wait in rugby league if you actually want to do something. Opportunities only knock once and that was the case here.

"I never, ever thought this opportunity would come. It was a complete shock to me – a shock that I'd be going back to Penrith and a shock I could link with Nat so soon.

"But definitely going back to Penrith was the stronger shock. When I left the Panthers I had a real sense of unfinished business."

Following the announcement of Clearly's return to Penrith on a five-year deal commencing in 2019, the former Wests Tigers coach has received criticism from parts, and he admitted that he understood people who may be angry at his abrupt departure. 

"The fans are the lifeblood of our game and I completely respect their passion. I was a fan once too so I get it," Cleary told NRL.com.

"There will be a range of emotions that fans feel. I've already had some Tigers fans come up to me, and while they're disappointed I'm leaving, they thanked me.

"But of course there will be other Tigers fans that think the complete opposite and I understand that too.

"I would say to them that they've got a really good club to follow and that the club is in a really good position – a really strong and intelligent leadership and the future is going to be very bright."

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