The Roar
The Roar


Ivan Cleary learning from Anthony Griffin’s mistakes by avoiding top four

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21st May, 2019
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Barring a successful petition for a remake that digitally removes the mugs, the rest of Penrith’s season is guaranteed to suck so badly it will indelibly taint the club in popular culture for eternity.

But despite this, despondent fans should quit booing their woeful outfit and have some perspective.

The situation could be much worse – your team could be still working under Anthony Griffin.

Despite six straight defeats handing the club its worst start in 17 years, supporters should be thanking administrators for rescuing the team from their dire predicament under the former coach, which was finals contention.

Additionally, Ivan Cleary’s miserable 2-8 record should not be scalded for forcing excruciating eulogies from Greg Alexander on live TV every week as his beloved club regresses to the mid-2000s, but praised for its inherent pragmatism.

Cleary is not overseeing the greatest embarrassment at Penrith since Jarrod Sammut’s misspelt tattoo; he is simply demonstrating an ability to learn from his predecessor’s shortfalls by ensuring his team isn’t languishing in the top four.

So to those suggesting Penrith’s decision to lure a coach with a sub-50 per cent record to break his existing contract before tying him to a five-year deal wasn’t a good idea, you’re nuts.

Ivan Cleary at Panthers training.

(Renee McKay/Getty Images)

For those unaware, Griffin was unilaterally decoupled from Penrith last season after being overpowered in the club’s culture wars, with powerbrokers deciding his position had become untenable after almost earning a double-chance finals campaign.


While his sacking was seemingly incomprehensible at the time, the truth eventually emerged on Griffin’s dysfunctional methodologies.

Players slammed his old-school methods of time trials and rampant point-scoring, while progressive club bosses spoke of his bizarre refusal to develop biological ties to Nathan Cleary.

Once it became apparent there would be no premiership in August or extraordinary advance in science, he was done.

In comparison to Griffin’s smouldering ruin, seeing Cleary’s side lose to the Warriors in front of a wake is a small price to pay.

While unidentifiable to the naked eye, the former Tigers honcho has actually made significant achievements since joining the club in the off-season. For example, he has made it partway through his deal without being paid handsomely to go away.

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It’s a tremendous achievement when you consider the Penrith he walked into was a virtual Cancun, only hornier. Even Laurie Daley said he wouldn’t send his son there, a man who deemed Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson culturally fit on multiple occasions.

But while Cleary may have inherited a basket case caused by mismanagement and the oppressive ways of a former overlord – you have plenty to answer for, Cameron Ciraldo – the club is implementing measures to ensure the raging nappy bonfire is eventually controlled.

Following another internal review after the Round 9 fold to the Tigers, the coach was forced to conduct another root-and-branch audit at halftime against the Warriors.

Resulting, the club has proactively dictated that to save time, full-scale reviews will now be held every Monday alongside the club’s other diarised weekly events, such as team lunches and rebuilds.

The organisation will also maintain a permanent interim coach for its seasonal kneejerk, with Ciraldo, Steve Georgallis and a crisis-level Brian Smith to be cryogenically frozen in the old Oak fridge, ready to be thawed at the first sign of tiredness.


A range of roster tweaks will be made in an attempt to reinvigorate the squad, with James Maloney already in talks to move to the English Super League, possibly in a package deal with the entire club.

This will be coupled by returning to market, with the Titans already enquiring about returning their multitude of hand-me-downs which they now claim originally included Ash Taylor.

Finally, the current board have firmly endorsed themselves as the front office that can cultivate the environment for Cleary to ensure there is no repeat of Griffin’s upward plummet.

Highlighting their rugby league nous by a team that no longer wears ‘feathery white and mousey brown’ on their watch, they believe they can lead the club forward by cutting adrift things until the club is just the remains of a shiny new bus.

And if that fails, they have a lovely centre of excellence which could possibly give birth to a son and coach the team.