The Penrith Panthers are on the verge of producing a major power play by bringing Ivan Cleary back to the club.
It would be an extraordinary move given Cleary was sacked by Panthers boss Phil Gould in 2015 and has two years to run on his deal with the Wests Tigers.
But sources close to the Tigers have tonight told the Weekender that the Cleary to Penrith move is a legitimate possibility.
It would be unlikely to be announced until after the season or at least until the Tigers are out of Finals contention.
Cleary returning to Penrith would also ensure the club re-signs halfback Nathan Cleary, who has expressed his desire to be coached by his father.
Cleary coached the Panthers for four seasons from 2012, finishing one game short of the 2014 Grand Final before an injury crisis ruined the club’s chances in 2015. Cleary was sensationally let go at the end of the 2015 season with Gould claiming he was “tired”.
Despite their history, it’s understood Gould and Cleary have maintained a strong relationship.
Assistant coach Cameron Ciraldo is likely to take over for the rest of the season with assistance from Gould, Peter Wallace and Greg Alexander.
Penrith remain in top four contention just a month out from the Finals and play the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.