Ivan Cleary has established himself as Penrith’s greatest ever coach after guiding the club to its third Premiership.
Cleary has finally broken his Premiership duck and in the process vindicated his controversial return to the Panthers in 2019.
Cleary has taken Penrith to two Grand Finals, three Preliminary Finals (2014, 2020 and 2021) and now Premiership glory.
He is now on the cusp of guiding the Panthers through something never achieved before – a long era of success.
Penrith failed to play Finals football for the five seasons after their 1991 triumph and were back out of the top eight just two years after winning the title in 2003.
Cleary has all the ingredients in place to win more competitions with one of the NRL’s youngest and most exciting squads.
His critics, loud in his return 2019 season in particular, now have egg on their faces.
In the space of two weeks Cleary has out-coached two of the best in the business in Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett.
In the process he has joined the NRL’s coaching elite.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.