PENRITH legend Greg Alexander insists the board had no issues handing Ivan Cleary a five-year deal despite being forced to payout their past two coaches – including Cleary himself.
Cleary this week made an unceremonious return to the foot of the mountains and unite with son Nathan after being granted a controversial release from the Wests Tigers.
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Panthers get their man0:00
NRL: The Penrith Panthers have confirmed that Ivan Cleary will join his son Nathan at the foot of the mountains in 2019, in spite of being unceremoniously shown the door after the Panthers’ 2015 season.
However Alexander, who is a board director and led the club to its first premiership in 1991, said there was no hesitation in signing off on another long-term financial commitment.
“I think anyone that signs a five-year agreement makes anyone sit up and take notice and wonder whether five years is necessary,” Alexander told AAP.
“But I’ve got no problems with regards to Ivan.”
The reunion is believed to have come at a cost well over $11 million.
Cleary’s contract, as well as Nathan’s five-year extension last month, is worth a reported $10 million combined.
That’s on top of a reported $1 million payout for Cleary’s predecessor in Anthony Griffin, who had over two years remaining on his deal before his shock sacking in August.
The Panthers are also believed to have given the Tigers a six-figure sum as compensation for Cleary, who had another two years remaining on his deal with the Tigers.
The cash splash comes two years before NRL clubs will be forced to pay a 37 per cent luxury tax on a $5.7 million cap on their football department.
An NRL spokesperson confirmed clubs have until the 2020 season to get under the soft cap, or else pay a cumulative sum for overspending between 2018-19.
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Alexander is confident Cleary would deliver success despite critics pointing to him winning just 47 per cent of his 295 matches as coach at the Warriors, Panthers and Tigers.
Cleary won just 44 per cent of his 98 games in three years at Penrith between 2012-15, when his team made the finals just once.
A total 14 players remain from the club when he was shown the door by Panthers boss Phil Gould because he thought Cleary “needed a break”.
However after watching the Panthers falter at the semi-final stage in the past three seasons, Alexander believes Cleary is the man to lead them further.
“He has got a good roster, certainly a lot better than the roster that was here when he was here,” Alexander said.
“I just think he’s got the right temperament and knowledge to take these blokes the couple of steps further than they need to go.”
Originally published as It won’t be third time unlucky at the Panthers, says Brandy
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