IVAN Cleary’s mega deal at Penrith alongside halfback son Nathan comes with a “bus load” of pressure to deliver a premiership, according to Panthers legend Mark Geyer.
Cleary will get to work immediately on finishing what he claimed was “unfinished business” at the Panthers, after he was signed to return on a five-year deal to the NRL club on Monday.
Cleary’s arrival is arguably one of the biggest stories in a chaotic year of NRL, given he still had two years left at the Wests Tigers before the Panthers negotiated a release last week.
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But with that comes pressure according to Geyer, who said the Panthers must now win a competition and play in the finals for each of the next five years as a minimum.
“If we are believing reports of the money changing hands, at around $10 million for son and dad, with that brings enormous pressure and expectation,” Geyer told Triple M’s Rush Hour.
“You could say a bus load of pressure.
““They’ve got to win a comp. At least. And it’s a given they have to make the eight every year that Ivan is coach.
“Because if he doesn’t make the eight, they will go back to the money and say here we go again, and they will bring up his percentage of coaching.”
The coach at the centre of Penrith’s initial rebuild under general manager Phil Gould in 2012, Cleary took the Panthers to the 2014 preliminary final.
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But the club battled an injury crisis both that year and the next, and he was axed after the following season when Gould claimed he was “looking tired”.
Penrith have made the finals in each of the three years since with Anthony Griffin at the helm for the majority, and Geyer said they were now better placed for Cleary to win his first title.
“He’s got a lot better roster than he had in 2014,” Geyer said.
“He’s got the academy, some fantastic juniors coming through and a State of Origin halfback in his son.
“We should have won at least a competition in the past decade, and the fact we haven’t is a crying shame. That just adds to the pressure Ivan is under.”
Originally published as ‘They’ve got to win a comp’: Pressure mounts on Cleary after Panthers’ $10m move
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