Nathan Cleary to miss Tigers showdown in Bathurst

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has confirmed that Nathan Cleary will more than likely make his comeback from a hamstring injury next weekend in Townsville during ANZAC Round.

In his pre-game press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Cleary said his superstar son will miss his third game of the season this weekend due to an ongoing hamstring injury.

“He’s going well, he just had a little more awareness at the start than we sort of thought based on scans. We just moved [his return] out a bit, change of plan,” he said.

“We are still pretty hopeful of next week. He could probably play this week but until he does more training…”

Cleary said the two-time Clive Churchill Medal winner has resumed training but mostly away from the team.

“He’s just running – he’s been doing heaps of that. He now just has to gravitate back into team stuff, which he has been doing, but until he can do the whole bit for probably a week than we’re not going to play him,” he said.

Nathan Cleary in action against the Eels. Photo: Megan Dunn.

While the injury bug seems to have bitten every team this season, Penrith have been hampered more than most.

In some good news, Cleary did confirm that five-eighth Jarome Luai would play against the Wests Tigers in Bathurst on Saturday afternoon, while backrower Scott Sorensen will also return after being sidelined since injuring his leg against Brisbane.

“Romey is going well, really well – he’s playing,” Cleary said.

“[Scott], he’s playing.

“Every team goes through players and they come and they go. Over a long season you’ve got to play with the [whole] squad.

“It’s different in finals time where it’s do or die – you might take more risks – but this time of year we are sort of cautious but sometimes we are not. Every player wants to play every game. We want to put the best team out there as possible. There’s lots of different factors.”

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary addresses the media on Tuesday. Photo: Melinda Jane.

Saturday afternoon’s game at Carrington Park will be Penrith’s first since they were blown away by Manly at 4 Pines Park at fortnight ago.

Cleary said the squad worked on “lots of things” during their bye week.

“Ultimately, we weren’t happy with how we played, and we’ve done a bit of work on lots of things,” he said.

“We want to improve in all areas. We weren’t proud of that performance.”

The Panthers have officially notched up a decade of playing in the state’s central west, with their record in Bathurst a mixed bag over the years.

“We’ve been going there 10 years now and country footy is something everybody should keep looking at,” Cleary told the Weekender.

“The town itself gets behind us, gets behind the game, and it’s also part of our footprint out there in central west NSW. We always look forward to going out there. Hopefully we can play a little bit better than last time.”

Penrith played the Tigers on a cold, rainy night in Bathurst last season, with the Premiers going down to the eventual wooden spooners.

Cleary said he’s been impressed with the Wests Tigers under Benji Marshall and expects them to rise to the occasion once again.

“They look good,” he said of the Tigers this season.

“I guess most teams at the moment are just trying to find their feet and consistency is unusual throughout the league.

“They’ve certainly had some really good games and some really good moments and pose a threat for sure.”

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