Infotainment Factory: Cleary unloads on NRL's critics after summer horror

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Friday, 15 March 2019

Cleary unloads on NRL's critics after summer horror


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A sex tapes scandal involving his players hardly rates when it comes to the most difficult challenge Ivan Cleary has faced as an NRL coach.

The returning Penrith mentor has had to deal with a harsh fallout since the emergence online of the videos, which have resulted in utility Tyrone May being charged by police with filming two women without their consent.

But entering his 19th season carrying a clipboard, Cleary can recall a much darker hour. It was at the Warriors in 2009 and a crisis that no coaching manual could possibly prepare him for.

"We lost one of our great young players, Sonny Fai," he said on Saturday of the 20-year-old backrower who died trying to save his brother and four cousins in a rip at Bethells Beach in Auckland.

Ivan Cleary

"That was the most difficult thing we had to deal with for obvious reasons.

"The Auckland Blues have gone through a similar thing the last couple of weeks," he said, referencing the recent death of 23-year-old rugby prop Mike Tamoaieta.

"It sort of brings you back to earth when things like that happen."

Cleary said off-field dramas are simply part of being a coach.

"You've got to do your best on the run but essentially you're dealing with young men," he said.

Phil Gould

"You've just got to navigate your way through as best you can."

Ahead of Penrith's opener against Parramatta on Sunday, Cleary took aim at some of the game's own for criticising the NRL's culture after its summer of shame. One of them, Canberra legend Laurie Daley, specifically attacked the Panthers' brand.

"From my perspective, I've been in the NRL almost 30 years and rugby league players haven't changed. The environment's definitely changed," Cleary said.

"I'd say, if anything, today's players more aware than ever before but they're still rugby league players and they've always been the same.

Nathan Cleary

"I guess if you've been involved in the game and want to criticise it, then you've probably need to take responsibility for being part of that culture.

"I'm involved, everyone who's played the game is involved in the game, coaches, players, administrators, journalists, we're all part of it."

The dramas have overshadowed Cleary's return to Penrith where he re-unites with son Nathan to spearhead what is widely expected to be a genuine shot at this year's title.

They host a Parramatta outfit eager to rebound from last season's wooden spoon and blooding youngsters Dylan Brown and Maika Sivo along with key signing Blake Ferguson.

A sex tapes scandal involving his players hardly rates when it comes to the most difficult challenge Ivan Cleary has faced as an NRL coach.

The returning Penrith mentor has had to deal with a harsh fallout since the emergence online of the videos, which have resulted in utility Tyrone May being charged by police with filming two women without their consent.

But entering his 19th season carrying a clipboard, Cleary can recall a much darker hour. It was at the Warriors in 2009 and a crisis that no coaching manual could possibly prepare him for.

"We lost one of our great young players, Sonny Fai," he said on Saturday of the 20-year-old backrower who died trying to save his brother and four cousins in a rip at Bethells Beach in Auckland.

Ivan Cleary

"That was the most difficult thing we had to deal with for obvious reasons.

"The Auckland Blues have gone through a similar thing the last couple of weeks," he said, referencing the recent death of 23-year-old rugby prop Mike Tamoaieta.

"It sort of brings you back to earth when things like that happen."

Cleary said off-field dramas are simply part of being a coach.

"You've got to do your best on the run but essentially you're dealing with young men," he said.

Phil Gould

"You've just got to navigate your way through as best you can."

Ahead of Penrith's opener against Parramatta on Sunday, Cleary took aim at some of the game's own for criticising the NRL's culture after its summer of shame. One of them, Canberra legend Laurie Daley, specifically attacked the Panthers' brand.

"From my perspective, I've been in the NRL almost 30 years and rugby league players haven't changed. The environment's definitely changed," Cleary said.

"I'd say, if anything, today's players more aware than ever before but they're still rugby league players and they've always been the same.

Nathan Cleary

"I guess if you've been involved in the game and want to criticise it, then you've probably need to take responsibility for being part of that culture.

"I'm involved, everyone who's played the game is involved in the game, coaches, players, administrators, journalists, we're all part of it."

The dramas have overshadowed Cleary's return to Penrith where he re-unites with son Nathan to spearhead what is widely expected to be a genuine shot at this year's title.

They host a Parramatta outfit eager to rebound from last season's wooden spoon and blooding youngsters Dylan Brown and Maika Sivo along with key signing Blake Ferguson.

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