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Panthers boss Cleary not keen to talk Tigers but this week is personal

Back in November when Ivan Cleary was happy to talk Tigers and get things off his chest, he was asked a question about what exactly the joint venture fans were supposed to think when he sat in the coaching box opposite for the first time in 2019.

Cleary wasn't as icy as a mid-autumn Bathurst night, didn't speak in cliches and generally just told it as he saw it. In the months since he's made it known the time for reflection on the messy split from Tigertown is over.

Ivan Cleary's reunion with son Nathan, left, at Penrith has already had its ups and downs.

Ivan Cleary's reunion with son Nathan, left, at Penrith has already had its ups and downs. Credit:NRL Photos

He doesn't care about the incessant questioning and innuendo which will bubble along this week as his second coming at the Panthers stalls.

Armed with multi-million dollar contracts belonging to both himself and son Nathan, Cleary's Panthers have looked anything but title contenders they should be so far. Yes, it is only round three. But perhaps for the first time in his career Cleary has walked into a club ready to win, which comes with its own pressure.

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That pressure will be most keenly felt this week, from a set of fans who he united on his arrival at the club and perhaps united even more when he left. Some understood the unique lure of returning to Penrith to coach his son, others didn't.

Asked late last year about how Tigers fans should feel about his exit, Cleary told the Herald: "The fans are the lifeblood of the game. We wouldnt have a game without the fans – I was a fan once too – and I understand the emotions that come with it.

"There will be a variety of emotions and some fans that Ive already spoken to while disappointed Im leaving understand and am thankful for what Ive done. Im sure there will be other fans that dont quite see it that way. I totally understand that and get that.

"Our fans are emotional. Id suppose Id just like to say anything I did with the club I did it authentically, I believed everything I said and I never for one minute thought Id be leaving but its just kind of how it happened. I would say I think theyve got a great club.

"Some people wont see it this way, but I can look myself in the mirror and know that Ive given the Tigers full disclosure through this whole journey. Ive tried to consider everything to make sure this was done in the right way. Thats all I can do."

On emotion, Cleary wasn't keen to show much of it after Penrith were humbled by a resilient Storm in the central west on Saturday night.

Josh Addo-Carr crosses for a Storm try in their humbling of the Panthers on Saturday. Read More – Source [contf] [contfnew]

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