Cleary stands by tough calls at Panthers
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary insists he’ll continue to make the tough calls at the Panthers but doesn’t foresee the need to drop another bombshell like last week’s parting of the ways with club legend Luke Lewis.
Cleary says the controversial stands he’s made in his first season at the foot of the mountains have been necessary in building a foundation for the battling NRL club.
More changes will occur before next year rolls around, but Cleary believes the earth-shattering news has subsided for now.
Decisions to dump NSW Origin star Michael Jennings to reserve grade and to strip Lewis of the captaincy before ultimately releasing him have rocked the Panthers to the core.
But Cleary makes no apologies and believes the playing group are supportive of his vision for the future.
“You can’t be in this business and not make tough decisions. They’re always there to be made. You either make them or you don’t,” Cleary said on Tuesday.
“I think you have to make them if you want to get where you want to.
“I don’t think you’ll get another one like Luke … that’s a big one. I certainly don’t think there’s going to be anything like that again.
“We’ve obviously made some progress in some areas but in others we need to get a lot better … our lower grades and young teams have all done well this year and that’s great to see and that’s certainly part of the plan for the future. It’s disappointing the way the NRL team has gone in terms of results but we’ve got quite a lot of games to go.”
Cleary said everyone at the club needed to improve, including himself.
Asked if he was experiencing his most stressful year as a coach, the former Warriors mentor said he knew he was putting his hand up for a tough gig at Penrith and is embracing the challenge ahead.
“It was part of the attraction for sure. I’m really proud of where the Warriors are at the moment … Hopefully we can get this club in a great position in a few years down the track,” he said.
“You’ve got to start somewhere and I feel honoured to be in this position and to have this opportunity and looking forward to happier days down the track.”
Cleary said he’s yet to make a decision on who will captain the club long term, after interim leader Kevin Kingston indicated he would be happy to relinquish the role to someone else.
Meanwhile, injured back Michael Gordon won’t return from his broken leg this week against the Sydney Roosters.© AAP 2013
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