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Think Penrith is doing well in the NRL? Check out the rest of the club

GongPanther

Referee
Messages
23,818
Christian Nicolussi

Ivan Cleary has been hailed as the main man behind a decade-long Penrith revolution that led to the club having a near-perfect start to the 2021 season, across all three grades.

It is well documented Cleary’s NRL side are chasing their ninth straight win on Friday evening when they host Cronulla, coming after the 2020 season where the Panthers won 17 straight games before a grand final defeat.

But emphasising the current strength of the whole Penrith club, the Panthers’ NSW Cup side are also undefeated in 2021 and the under-21s Jersey Flegg side have only lost once – a one-point thriller against St George Illawarra.

The club record sits at 20 wins from 21 games across all grades, and if Penrith’s feeder club St Marys is included, who feature in the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield, the win-loss tally is an impressive 33-2.

Penrith’s apparent depth means their NRL side should thrive through the Origin period when several players will be required for NSW and Queensland duty.

And they have Cleary to thank given he was the one who started the western Sydney overhaul when he arrived nearly a decade ago to join forces with then-general manager of football Phil Gould.

“All these results we’re now having basically reflect the hard work that has been put in by a lot of people over a long period of time,” Panthers football manager Matt Cameron told the Herald.

“But Ivan Cleary has been such an integral part of this whole process. It all started when he got here in 2012 and joined Gus.

“People don’t realise how long it has taken for us to get to this point. It’s not like you can package it all up, give the blueprint to another NRL club, then expect the same results in 12 months.

“It’s all about alignment, from pathways programs through to the school programs to first grade, how the coaches coach, the relationship between the football club and leagues club ... everybody knows their job and what the expectations are.”

Given the fantastic depth and success of Penrith, the NRL could well have given thought to introducing a second team at the foot of the Blue Mountains, and not in Brisbane.

Cameron laughed off the suggestion and said: “We know geographically we’re blessed, we have 24 clubs and 8500 juniors. But you also need to be able to find the diamonds in the rough and polish them up, which is something we’ve become good at. When our players get to first grade, we know they’ll be ready.”

Cameron added another key component in the success was the level of corporate governance by “[CEO] Brian Fletcher, [chairman] Dave O’Neill and the board”.

Fletcher was full of praise for Cleary and said: “He’s had such a big role in this rebuild, and the best part about Ivan is he’s collaborative – he wants everybody included and doesn’t exclude anyone.”

The Panthers famously won 17 straight games last season before they lost the Grand Final to Melbourne. Penrith are chasing a 9-0 start against the Sharks.

One player desperate to improve on last week is back-rower Viliame Kikau who struggled to get into the game against Manly, and knows he needs to demand the ball more from his five-eighth Jarome Luai.

“I wasn’t getting the ball in my hand as early as I’m used to last week, and one thing I’m working on this week is improving my talk with ‘Romy’ [Luai]. I need to be dominant with my talk because it only makes his job easier and he knows when to give me the ball.

“I do get too relaxed sometimes. I don’t even realise how relaxed I am until after the game and I’ll see my stats and be like, ‘how did that happen?’. One of the things I actually wanted to work on this year was being consistent.”

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/th...out-the-rest-of-the-club-20210506-p57pgt.html
 

betcats

Referee
Messages
22,131
Incredible how little credit Gus gets in that article. I'm sure Cleary contributed but it was Gus that started turning the beast around.

Gus is working for another club hes been gone for two years now, they havent discredited him at all they are just praising Ivan I dont see any issue with what they have said. I would say Cameron himself is the most imprtant guy at the club.
 

Pomoz

Juniors
Messages
2,395
No Gus, no turnaround. It's that simple. Feltis got him in because he knew the club had lost its way. The strategy to become a development club, the rebuilding of development pathways, the retaking of NSW cup from St Mary's, that's down to Gus. He made bad decisions too, but without his brilliant strategic mind, the Panther's were cooked.

That said, it would be foolish to say the success is only down to one person, that is clearly not true. For a start, Don Feltis should get huge credit for going to Gus and asking for help. He knew that it would be ugly and that many of the decisions made by Don himself would probably come under the spotlight and not look good. As Betcats said, Matt Cameron is another as is Jim Jones and I am sure there are many others. What about Hayden Knowles contribution to the current fitness regime and Hook's blooding of several current players? All have played their part, but it was under the watching eye of Gus.

The best thing he did though, was to put good people in place to make sure that the process becomes embedded and continues when he leaves. That is his greatest legacy. If the system falls over when one person leaves, then the system is flawed. I think he has done a great job of getting the right people into the club who share the vision of "the development club".

It is sometimes forgotten that the Roosters junior development programme was started and implemented by Gus. Again, there were plenty of others at the Roosters who contributed but they were nowhere until Gus got there and become the director of football. I have no doubt Politis's leadership would have had a massive positive influence on the development of Gus's strategic thinking and he will have improved his leadership skills immensely under his guidance. But Gus has a passion for development that very few others possess. Listen to his 'Six tackles with Gus" podcast where he talks about Brent Naden and where he is almost in tears talking about Tom Eisenhuth and how proud he is that he has gone to the Storm and made it as a first grade player, after struggling for years at the Panthers. That passion for development is what has transformed the club and to me, it is more important than the first premiership he delivered in 1991.
 

BxTom

Juniors
Messages
1,934
I see that there is another puff piece on the Cleary family on Panthers site. Are they about to extend Cleary as coach or make him a Coaching director or some such? The next story will be about how Cleary saved the Panthers financially and how Cleary created the club in the first place...Seems that there is a snow job approaching...
 

Pomoz

Juniors
Messages
2,395
I see that there is another puff piece on the Cleary family on Panthers site. Are they about to extend Cleary as coach or make him a Coaching director or some such? The next story will be about how Cleary saved the Panthers financially and how Cleary created the club in the first place...Seems that there is a snow job approaching...
To be fair to Ivan, Foxsports and the Tigers have put the slipper into him many, many times. He probably deserves a bit of positive PR.
 

BxTom

Juniors
Messages
1,934
To be fair to Ivan, Foxsports and the Tigers have put the slipper into him many, many times. He probably deserves a bit of positive PR.
Yes, I agree that he has done some good here and deserves some credit. But I also believe that Gus and, to some extent, Hook deserve credit. Gus rebuilt and refinanced the Club which has resulted in our junior base being better organised. Hook gave us fitness and discipline. I think that Cleary has been a good man manager to keep the team focused and egos in check. It is a combined effort which is now producing. As to West and foxsports, they are both very forgettable...
 

murraymob

First Grade
Messages
8,902
Love how people jump in it’s Gould who saved no it’s Cleary who saved Us no it’s don feltis Seriously do we really care .Lets enjoy the glory the stories the press
As a long time panther enjoy our time in the sun it’s been a long time coming
Reality check for all our success is a combination of all those named above .The big praise should go to our recruitment guys who identified fisher Harris Yeo Martin Staines all kids from outside our boundaries
Up the panthers by the way I want some of the credit as our club was close to going under it was my many hot dogs chips and bourbon that kept us going lol
 

betcats

Referee
Messages
22,131
I see that there is another puff piece on the Cleary family on Panthers site. Are they about to extend Cleary as coach or make him a Coaching director or some such? The next story will be about how Cleary saved the Panthers financially and how Cleary created the club in the first place...Seems that there is a snow job approaching...

That piece was produced by NRL.com I believe, not the club.
 

maple_69

Bench
Messages
4,028
As others have said, plenty reserve credit, but for management to sign up and see through a rebuild so wholistic is quite rare in professional sport, particularly in Australia. Cleary or Griffin, and their equivalents in other roles, were never going to be the only guy to see us through the whole rebuild. If they were then the Tigers and other clubs that expect to be able to turn things around in 2 years wouldn’t be a shambles still.
 

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