Coaches’ union keen to make Ivan Cleary-like capers a thing of the past

“There’s no rule at the moment around the governance of the coaches insofar as when coaches can be approached,” Henry said.

“It would make sense to comply with what the players have around not being approached until the last year of their contract.

“It was a bit of a merry-go-round of coaches that still had years to go on their contracts.

“Most people agree it wasn’t a good time, not just on the impact on the players but also the clubs involved.

“You have to think about the support staff too; there’s always a bit of collateral damage.

“I think it would be easy and reasonable to put in a clause to fall into line with [the rules] around the players.”


Several Tigers players and officials privately remain angry that Cleary left the club with two years still remaining on his contract to link with his son Nathan on a longer and more lucrative deal at the foot of the mountains.

“I’d like to change how it happened,” Cleary said.

“But under the circumstances, I was open and honest about it and did the best I could.”

Pressed on what he would do differently, Cleary said: “The fact we’ve been talking about it for six months and that it’s been dragged through the press for so long. That would be the first thing I’d change.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the circumstances as they were. It was just one of those situations.”

The Tigers received a $250,000 payment from the Panthers to release him from his contract, while Cleary also forfeited about a month’s wages – worth about $50,000 – to secure his transfer.

While he can understand Tigers fans are angry, he doesn’t feel he owes the club an apology.

“No, I don’t,” he said.

“I was open and honest with everyone who needed to know. Circumstances at the time didn’t allow me to speak publicly about it. That was more for the protection of everyone involved. I don’t really owe anyone an apology, I don’t think.

“If they are unhappy, I respect that as well.”


Some Tigers players, particularly those who had shifted to Concord to be coached by Cleary, are furious he got ‘off the bus’. Russell Packer, in particular, is believed to be livid with the decision.

However, Cleary said he still had strong relationships with his former charges.

“I don’t have a problem with anyone at the Tigers and I don’t think they have one with me either,” he said.


Cleary denied that he asked Panthers supremo Phil Gould to be sidelined as a condition of his return and said he still leant on ‘Gus’ for advice.

“Of course, I’d be mad not to,” he said.

Gould had approached Wayne Bennett about taking over from Anthony Griffin, unaware chairman Dave O’Neill was in discussions with Cleary.

“Wayne Bennett is like the Godfather of coaching, he’s probably got the best record of any coach,” Cleary said.

“The fact I’m mentioned in the same sentence, I’m pretty happy.”

Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.

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