Penrith Panthers champion halfback Nathan Cleary has revealed it was Jack Cogger's addition to the game in the final 20 minutes that 'unlocked him' to drive an incredible comeback.

Despite being behind by 16 points with under 20 minutes to play, Cleary orchestrated one of the all-time great comebacks as Penrith claimed their third straight premiership.

It came after Penrith had conceded a hat-trick to Ezra Mam in a 15-minute window after halftime, and after Jarome Luai had to exit the field with a shoulder injury.

Cleary paid credit to Jack Cogger, who was playing his final game for the club before linking up with the Newcastle Knights in 2024.

"I've got to give a massive rap to Coggs as well when he came on. He sort of unlocked me. He was communicating well, getting me to see things and we were sort of just following each other around," Nathan Cleary said.

"He was a big part of the reason we won."

The star halfback said the club had just wanted to get back into the arm-wrestle to begin with, but then found their way back into the contest.

"The 20 minutes before it was close to the worst I've ever played so it was nice to finish on a high I guess," Nathan Cleary said.

"I think my experience from the past, particularly that 2020 Storm grand final helped me to be in the game at the end of this one. Sometimes things feel s**t at the time like it did in that 2020 game but it's made me who I am today.

"I wasn't thinking that far ahead, but we were just trying to stop the flood at the time. We just wanted to get back into that arm wrestle, once we got one, that turned into two, then before I knew it I looked up at the clock and there was ten minutes to go, and we were down by four. That's when belief started to set in.

"When Yeo and Romey went off, it kind of felt like a free shot to be honest. We just had nothing to lose, we are in a grand final so might as well play. That's why I give credit to Coggs. He came on with that mentality and unlocked me to be honest."

Coach Ivan Cleary agreed, suggesting lessons learned in past games helped his son bring Penrith back from the brink of defeat in claiming their third straight premiership.

In winning the Clive Churchill Medal, Nathan Cleary became just the third player in history to be named grand final match of the match twice, joining the elite company of Bradley Clyde and Billy Slater.