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NRL News: Panthers unfazed by Cleary injury, Sivo tightens up tackling technique to avoid further bans

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26th March, 2024
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Ivan Cleary has played down concerns around his son Nathan’s hamstrings, saying the Penrith halfback’s latest injury scare could be a blessing in disguise.

Cleary junior has been ruled out of Thursday night’s clash against the Sydney Roosters with a right-hamstring strain. 

His spot at No.7 will be filled by new recruit Brad Schneider.

There is every chance Cleary could also miss the following week’s visit to Manly, particularly if Penrith play it safe ahead of their round-six bye.

The 26-year-old’s hamstring injury is his second in recent times; last year he suffered a tear to his left leg.

“Nat seems to have a sabbatical every year, this one’s a bit earlier,” Ivan Cleary said on Tuesday. 

“It’s not too bad, that’s the pleasing thing. He felt the same thing last year before he actually did it properly.


“The fact that he had that experience means we cut this one off a bit sooner. Hopefully it’ll only be a couple of weeks.”

The Penrith coach speculated the current setback was potentially related to a pre-existing injury in Nathan’s foot – rather than a wider issue affecting his hamstrings.

He hoped the No.7 could return fitter and stronger next month.

Nathan Cleary.

Nathan Cleary (Photo by Getty Images)

“He’s had a (plantar) fasciitis injury in his foot since pre-season. Sometimes that plays a part,” Ivan Cleary said. 

“He’s been struggling with that for a bit. This might be a silver lining, where he can fix that up as well in the meantime.”


Jarome Luai will likely take the lead on Penrith’s attack, in a sign of things to come for him ahead of next year’s switch to be Wests Tigers’ chief playmaker.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone to sharpen up and step up. Romy’s definitely in that category,” Ivan Cleary said.

With Scott Sorensen sidelined with a knee injury for the next month, and James Fisher-Harris (shoulder) also still out, Penrith will hand an emotional debut to Mavrik Geyer.

The son of Panthers legend Mark Geyer, Mavrik has further links to the club through uncles Greg Alexander and Matt Geyer.

Long touted as a potential first-grader, the 23-year-old will feature off the bench for Penrith.

“He’s a bit of a late bloomer who didn’t really get serious about his footy until probably three years ago,” Ivan Cleary said.  “He’s been playing well at Cup level and training really well. 


“This pre-season has been outstanding and he’s ready now to take the next step.

“He’s a pretty big lad. I didn’t get the joy of playing with MG (Mark Geyer), but I played against him and tried to avoid him as much as I could. 

“They’re a little bit different, and the game is a bit different these days. I haven’t seen (the same mean streak in Mavrik).”

Maika makes changes to technique

Maika Sivo has vowed to change his tackling technique as he prepares to return from yet another suspension for a shot gone wrong.

Parramatta winger Sivo collected AJ Brimson high during a pre-season challenge match against Gold Coast and found himself banned for the first three rounds of the season.

Ordinarily a player would only miss two games for a grade-two careless high-tackle charge – but Sivo’s extensive rap sheet meant he spent another week watching from the sidelines despite pleading guilty to the offence.


A similar high tackle rubbed Sivo out of four games late last season as the Eels battled to hold onto their spot in the top eight.

By the time the Fiji international returned in round 25, Parramatta had dropped to 10th on the ladder. They never rose any higher.

In total, the match review committee has charged Sivo seven times since the beginning of last season.

Eels teammate Dylan Brown put Sivo on notice after his latest ban, saying it was “not acceptable” to repeatedly let the side down with his discipline.

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Heeding that warning, Sivo has been putting in extra work with defence coach Steve Antonelli. “I just have to change my tackling technique and go from there,” he said.

“I’ve been practising after every session with our defence coach. I’ve been improving and can’t wait to get back.”


It was cold comfort for Sivo that his latest suspension had occurred early in the season, after he was rubbed out at a crucial juncture in 2023.

Grand finalists in 2022, the Eels have showed flashes of their best during a 2-1 start to the season that has them sixth on the ladder.

“I don’t want to be on the outside watching the boys play,” Sivo said.

“I wish I was out there, but … I have to keep working on my technique.”

The Eels are expected to name Sivo on the left wing for their traditional Easter Monday clash against Wests Tigers.

Blaize Talagi, who made his NRL debut in last week’s win over Manly, appears likeliest to drop out of the side.

Jorgo decision imminent


The Roosters could have a second rugby union rising star heading their way by the end of the week with a decision imminent from teen prodigy Max Jorgensen.

According to reports on 100% Footy, the Waratahs utility back will meet with his manager later this week to decide whether to accept a lucrative offer from the Roosters for 2025 onwards or remain with the Wallabies when they host the the British & Irish Lions tour in the lead-up to the World Cup two years later.

However, Rugby Australia has put together an extremely competitive bid to keep the Sydney Roosters’ mitts off Jorgensen.

But the wider ramifications of the deal could yet be felt, with the Reds in danger of losing two of their Test outside backs Jordan Petaia and Jock Campbell should Jorgensen stay in Australian rugby as expected.

With the Roosters reportedly tabling a two-year, $1.8 million offer to lure Jorgensen across Anzac Parade, The Roar can exclusively reveal RA has offered Jorgensen a three-year, $1.6m deal to keep him at the Waratahs.

Having already enticed dynamic winger Mark Nawaqanitawase to switch codes next season, the Tricolours have reportedly offered his fellow 2023 Wallabies World Cup squad member a $1.8 million two-year deal.

Roosters chairman Nick Politis and triple premiership-winning coach Trent Robinson have met with the 19-year-old to express their interest.


Max Jorgensen. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The son of former Roosters and Penrith player Peter Jorgensen, the fullback-winger has been a revelation for the Waratahs in the Super Rugby Pacific since debuting last year.

He is off contract at the end of 2024 but has spoken of his desire to face the touring Lions next year.

A code swap could also happen in 2026 or after Australia hosts the 2027 World Cup.

No grudge from Mahoney over losing captaincy

Cameron Ciraldo was right to name new recruit Stephen Crichton skipper at Canterbury, the club’s deposed co-captain Reed Mahoney says.


Triple premiership winner Crichton did not hold a formal leadership position in his 100 games for Penrith, but was immediately handed the top job on joining the Bulldogs this year.

That left Burton and Mahoney displaced as on-field co-captains after only one year in the job, during which the 15th-placed Bulldogs managed just seven wins from 24 games.

Last season’s club captain Raymond Faitala-Mariner, in charge of off-field culture, has joined St George Illawarra.

Ciraldo praised his newly minted skipper after Saturday’s 32-0 thrashing of Gold Coast, which opened the Bulldogs’ account this season.

“His leadership out there is really crucial to us. A lot of the time I’m sending messages out and he’s already got it covered,” Ciraldo said.

On Monday, Mahoney echoed Ciraldo – saying the coach was right to go in a new direction with the team’s leadership.


“It’s probably the right thing that Cam did. I was happy with the decision,” he said.

“It wasn’t about me, it was about what’s best for the club and what’s best for the team. At the moment, Stephen’s doing a great job.

“The way Stephen is, the person he is and how professional he is, I’d choose him myself.”

Mahoney said he remained a leader, albeit in an unofficial capacity.

“It hasn’t really changed the way I go about my business,” he said.


“I don’t step back in meetings or in a group or anything.”

Winger Josh Addo-Carr is a chance to return from his shoulder injury for Canterbury’s traditional Good Friday clash against under-fire South Sydney.

The NSW State of Origin representative has missed the last two games but trained on Monday and could replace utility Connor Tracey on the left wing.

Tracey was unsure whether he would remain in the 17.

“(Addo-Carr) will definitely get that left-wing spot back (if he’s fit), so we’ll see where I fit in after that,” the new recruit said.

with AAP