The Wests Tigers have named their fifth coach in as many years, recruiting former Panthers and Warriors coach Ivan Cleary to replace Jason Taylor in the top job.
Cleary will guide the struggling Tigers through the remainder of the 2017 season in what is a three-and-a-half-year deal, which will run until the end of 2020.
“This is a great opportunity to join a club with a lot of potential,” said Cleary. “I look forward to getting to work with the playing group and coaching staff.
“The Wests Tigers are a huge brand with a strong Membership base and a lot of supporters and I look forward to getting stuck in over the coming weeks.
“Day one is today and from here we start working on improving, we’ll do a lot of exploring and analysis on how things work at Wests Tigers and how the people within the club work. We need to decide as a group what we want to be and go about achieving this.
“I can’t wait to get to work here. It’s no secret that I’ve missed it, this is a fresh start for me and I’m committed to seeing this club reach its potential and to be the success that I know it can be.”
Cleary will take over from Andrew Webster, who has been standing in as interim head coach since the sacking of Taylor two weeks ago. Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe thanked Webster for his efforts in the past two rounds.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Andrew Webster for the way that he carried himself over the last few weeks,” said Pascoe. “He did a terrific job during a difficult time, with the way that he conducted himself a true demonstration of his character.”
Cleary began his coaching career younger than most as a fresh-faced 35-year-old barely three years out of retirement as a player.
He took the reigns of the New Zealand Warriors back in 2006, holding onto the job for six years before a switch to the Penrith Panthers, a club his son currently plays for.
He has spent the last 12 months out of the game after being replaced at Penrith by Anthony Griffin following a string of tough results that saw them miss out on the finals.
Cleary has coached 249 games at the top level thus far, winning 121 and losing 125 with three draws to round it out.
Interestingly, in January, Cleary was appointed as the head coach of Lebanon for the upcoming rugby league World Cup held in Australian and New Zealand later this year.
There is no word as of yet on whether or not the new appointment at the Tigers will affect his role with Lebanon Rugby League.
Outgoing coach Jason Taylor was given the axe after a poor start to the season, coming under fire from the fans over the past 12 months for a lack of finals footy and the treatment of cult hero Robbie Farah.
Another defeat on Sunday at the hands of the Dragons has left the Tigers reeling with four losses on the trot before the Cleary announcement.
They currently sit dead last on the competition ladder with one win to their name, holding the unenviable mark of scoring the fewest points in the league as well as conceding the most points of all 16 teams.