Who is Brad Schneider? Cleary understudy opens up on “no-brainer” decision to join Premiers

Brad Schneider prepares for his Penrith debut. Photo: NRL Photos.
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His club debut may have been slightly overshadowed by the son of a legend, but halfback Brad Schneider was seamless in filling in for the injured Nathan Cleary against the Roosters last week.

Not expecting to get a call-up to fill the superstar’s big shoes so early on in the season, the 23-year-old was a pro guiding the Panthers around the Allianz Stadium pitch and onto a surprising victory.

“When you step into a team like this with quality players, it makes your job pretty easy,” Schneider told the Weekender.

“I didn’t really feel any pressure. Obviously, you’re filling Nathan’s spot but, to be honest, he gave me a lot of confidence as did all the coaches, to be myself and that made it pretty simple for me. At the end of the day, it wasn’t too hard [to fit in].”

With his mum, dad and older brother watching from home in Townsville and his partner, aunty, uncle and cousins in the crowd, Schneider was solid in combing with Jarome Luai for Penrith’s third straight win.

Brad Schneider chatting with journalist Nathan Taylor. Photo: NRL Photos.

The Adelaide-born playmaker said a lot of hard work and long nights of studying went into his Panthers debut.

“There’s a fair bit going on when you’re a half but having a good pre-season with the boys helps you a lot,” Schneider said.

“You’re always studying and doing video but, to be honest, the work you’ve done before helps a lot, so when you do get that call you’re ready to jump in.”

It’s been a whirlwind journey for Schneider since arriving at the foot of the Mountains in time for pre-season training.

Midway through last year, he was released from his contract with the Canberra Raiders to join Hull Kingston Rovers in the English Super League. In just his short time in the UK, he was voted Super League Player of the Month, he played in the Challenge Cup Final, and he went up against eventual champions Wigan for a spot in the Super League Grand Final.

“If you told me I’d be playing in England this time last year I never would have believed you,” Schneider said.

Brad Schneider. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“It was an awesome experience over there. I learned a lot about leadership. Coming into a new team and being the halfback; we played in some pretty big stadiums in the Challenge Cup Grand Final and made it to the semis as well.

“It was one hell of a ride and an experience that was definitely worth it.”
With the Panthers desperate for a back-up half for the 2024 season, they held numerous interviews with potential candidates to be Nathan Cleary’s fill-in and one of those was with the man in the headgear.

The Kirwan State High School skipper said he always wanted to return to Australia at some point in his career, but he didn’t think it would be with the back-to-back-to-back NRL Premiers.

“When I first went over to England, I had no idea what I was going to do afterwards. I always wanted to come back home and have another crack at the NRL, but then I considered staying over there for another year – I didn’t know what I was doing to be honest,” Schneider admitted.

“But when the Panthers came knocking, it was a bit of a no-brainer to join the club after the success they’ve had. The culture, everything, it’s something you really want to be a part of.”

Brad Schneider in action for Penrith. Photo: NRL Photos.

Having been in Penrith for the past six months, Schneider is starting to feel more and more at home as each day goes by.

He’s enjoying the local cafes and easy drive to work.

“To be honest, I’ve only ever been in Penrith once before and it’s not what I expected,” he said.

“It feels like a little country town, it’s pretty easy getting around here. There’s no big buildings and it’s not too busy, which is good.

“All the boys at the club love the cafes, so I’m still getting my bearings as to what is where.”

Fortunately, Schneider will have plenty of time to get himself acquainted with Penrith life, signed to at least the end of the 2025 season.

And with Jarome Luai becoming a Tiger next year, a spot will open in the halves to no longer be Cleary’s understudy but his partner in crime instead. That’s for further down the track, however.

Brad Schneider controlled a steady ship last week. Photo: NRL Photos.

“It’s always a goal to be in the 17 and playing every week,” Schneider said.

“But to be honest, I’m not looking that far ahead yet, we’ve still got this season to go.”

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

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