CAIRNS, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 17: Tigers coach Ivan Cleary looks on before the start of the NRL trial match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Wests Tigers at Barlow Park on February 17, 2018 in Cairns, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Ivan Cleary will return to Penrith next season, and has joined the Panthers on a five-year deal.

After spending the past two seasons at the Wests Tigers, Cleary returns to coach his son at the foot of the mountains, as the pair have finally linked up as a player and coach at the same club at NRL level.

Cleary thanked the Tigers for their understanding in the situation.

“I am very fond of Wests Tigers and all its people,” Cleary told

“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.”

Cameron Ciraldo will move back to the assistant coaching role, with Peter Wallace to join him in 2019 in that position.


  1. Glad it’s all done can’t wait for next year round 4 panthers at home against tigers will be packed I’d say
    Panthers win by 18 any takers I’ll make a bet with the tigers fans if Penrith win who ever bets me must change there user name to something like powerfulpanther or panther pride or something corny like that and I’ll change mine to whatever you want if panthers lose

  2. @toddy123 firstly no bet. Panthers got the man they wanted, whilst Tigers fans dont agree with the methods the Panthers used to get Ivan (within the rules but dont think it was fair play), the Panthers got Ivan so mission accomplished.

    Anyway if this builds for a bigger rivalry especially round 4 and other future clashes with bigger crowd attendance then better for both clubs. I look forward to booing Ivan at future games!

    • I do love genuine grudge match’s I do hope the tigers and panthers pull in a full house for the next few years it makes for a better atmosphere and in turn a better game good luck to your tigers for 2019

    • Your club, TigerTown, has sacked players, and coaches, before, so get over it. I, too, am looking forward in seeing the Panthers defeat your team.

      • Gosh not this clown again, trying to justify what his club has done with moves the Tigers have made in the past which has absolutely no relevance to this situation or nothing to do with the panthers. Get over yourself old man, you pulled a cheap one haha

        • Oh so I am a clown because I don’t agree with you? Ivan signed a contract, which will start in two years time, and your club didn’t like that, so they made the situation untenable. Your club has had prior form in sacking coaches. Pot, kettle, black.

        • Classic stuff – the Tigers made the situation untenable. Really???
          Old Gus is a clean-skin ehh??
          Pot, kettle, big goose.

    • Hey TigerTown, at the end of the day I think the Tigers did pretty well getting Madge as coach as I think he will do a great job there. I really wanted the Broncos to sign him up but you can’t win them all.

  3. @toddy123 if the Panthers can sort out the Hooker position (I think everyone really underestimates Peter Wallace’s value in that position) and avoid injury (Dylan Edwards) then the Panthers will have a good season. Good Luck in 2019.

    @Panthers18 keep bagging the Tigers, just note your man Ivan thanked the Tigers and singled out Justin Pascoe and Marina Go for their professionalism throughout.

    @dreaglor I wish none of this happened and we kept Ivan, but it has happened and getting Madge is the best result. My concern is Luke Brooks who had his breakout season in 2018 under Ivan and now Ivan is gone, Madge is a known hard trainer, does he put Luke Brooks offside ? Brooks contract expires 2019, in two days time he is now available for other clubs to talk to. Cronk’s contract with the Roosters finishes in 2019 and now with Shaun Johnson told he can look elsewhere as well…I really fear Brooks being poached by another club. Tigers fans have watched Brooks struggles over the years and I think he is finally coming good, the Tigers really need to keep Brooks. If Ivan committed, I reckon Brooks would have signed an extension already, changing to Madge puts Brooks in doubt.

        • TigerTown, I can’t help but notice you’ve copped a bit of grief over the past couple of days, but more than held your own by the way.
          For what it’s worth, I think the Tigers managed themselves as professionally as possible through this, and in the end came out of it relatively unscathed, and quite probably better off.
          I won’t bag the Panthers, as I don’t see it as a reflection of the club, and at the end of the day you got what you wanted, by signing Nathan long term. That said, I think the whole thing has been nothing short of embarrassing.

        • Panthers18
          October 29, 2018 at 5:56 pm
          I am returning serve, TigerTown.

          mighty, do you know the score? I came in late. I know this one is kown for throwing her racquet around and trying to intimidate the other players. 🎾💣💥

          They tried for the title but missed out in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and now in 2018. So I guess that 5 year plan didn’t work but I expect they will be back for another try in 2019. 😂😂😂😂

        • Gee, the ZT columnist career was short-lived danielle.

          “Panthers” is known for laughing at everyone BUT herself. While I laugh at everyone INCLUDING myself.

          See $JW, P18 can take a joke even if they go way over your head. Careful “Serena”, Martina N. is “sniffing” around.”

          What is it with “groupie’s? Always wanting a “selfie” and leveraging off the success of others. Sorry danielle, take your obsession elsewhere, I don’t do “selfies” or give autographs. 😂😂😂

        • Geez this got a bit personal. Panthers18 you are entitled to your opinion just keep in mind this is a forum where you deal with fans from other clubs who will have differing opinions to yours. Seems anytime someone has a negative view/aspect of the Panthers your responses are get over it and I even remember a reply of hypocrites somewhere else. If you are after Pro Panther sentiment perhaps go to Panther Forums.

          I prefer this forum because I want to hear the opinions of fans from other clubs, as a Tigers supporter I wanted to see the opinion of Panthers fans on the other side of the fence in this whole Anthony Griffin/Nathan&Ivan Cleary/West Tigers situation. So express your opinion and I’ll return serve, just park the dismissive responses.

        • There is lot of history there TigerTown. mighty was highlighting that you have been double teamed and triple teamed at times and “dismissive responses” are this duos signature move.

          I’m all for this site being open to diverse opinions and don’t feel threatened by this as “others” do. 👍🏻

        • @RR/STD_1970: Is it beyond your comprehension that my given name is shared by other females? I’m not the ZT author you recently chose to tr0ll, only for your comment to (not so) strangely be deleted by ZT.

          As for my apparent obsession, firstly:

          – I’ve been a visitor to this site for years before you showed your ugly head AND

          – my reply was CLEARLY directly to Panthers18 so take your ridiculous paranoia elsewhere, you fool.

          & btw, the ONLY person who is persistently bringing up “history” is you! Phoenix picked you up on that – ZT deleted that too along with your stupid response at justification for your attempt to re-stir an old pot.

          My comment was for P18 – that was made clear. There was no need for you to respond.

        • Thanks for the example on “How NOT to re-stir an old pot”, you always lead by example I see, so well done there.

          I applaud the timing too, at 11pm, 24 hours AFTER the fact when a story is number 23 on the list of current articles and close to End Of Life (EOL). That took a lot of courage.

          “before you showed your ugly head”

          You clearly lost control there, didn’t you? That’s “white male privilege” at it best for you right there. You can call me what you like but I can’t insult you back. That MUST be so empowering for you!

          “There was no need for you to respond.”

          Or you either, but you DID. Just saying, obsession is a dangerous thing. I saw “Fatal Attraction” and it didn’t end well for the Rabbit. Like I said (and I have told others before), I don’t do “selfies” or autographs and I have no time for “groupies” who have no manners. Cheers. Now show me how “not to respond”? 😂😂😂😂

    • Wallace was outstanding for Penrith but Eagan and katoa are not up to first grade standards yet I know manly a struggling with there cap I wouldn’t might getting api back

      • Wallace was tough and a leader to boot, very hard to replace. Egan and Katoa are young still could step up still. One more question, if DWZ said to the Panthers I want fullback, pick me or Edwards, who would you prefer ?

        • That’s a tough question with Edwards at fullback and dwz on the wing I think panthers are a stronger team but dwz has been impressive playing for nz at fullback… maybe Penrith will see how Edwards goes this year and perhaps Penrith might offer dwz the fullback spot long term but pay him as a winger

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