July 23, 2024

The Penrith Panthers are reportedly set to begin negotiations to keep Ivan and Nathan Cleary at the club for life – in what could be a $13 million package deal for the father-son duo. Halfback Nathan and coach Ivan are under contract with the Panthers until the end of 2027, but according to the Daily Telegraph the club is looking to lock them down even longer amid the threat from NRL expansion teams.

According to the report, the Panthers are keen to extend the Clearys’ contracts another five years until 2032. The figures being thrown around indicate Nathan could be on $1.5 million per season, and father Ivan a staggering $1.2 million.

It means a five-year extension for both would be worth an incredible $13.5 million – in what would be the richest package deal in NRL history. The North Sydney Bears have already indicated they’d be keen to get Ivan Cleary as coach if they gain entry into the NRL with the Perth expansion bid. Ivan played for the Bears in 1994 and 1995.

“The thing you would hope for is a coach with a rich history with the club,” North Sydney chair Daniel Dickson said recently. “And Ivan has that.”

Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher admitted the club wouldn’t want to see Nathan or Ivan leave. “It’s our intention to have some discussions in the near future,” Fletcher told the Daily Telegraph. “They’re here until ’27, but we’d like to make them both lifetime Panthers – coach and player.

“They are obvious targets for any new franchise. They’ve been such an integral part of our success. With our pathways we’re hopefully set up for the long term, but you still want and need the best coach and best player leading us.”NRL 2022, Penrith Panthers, Samoa, Jarome Luai, Brian To'o, Stephen  Crichton, Tony Puletua, Mount Druitt, church roots driving Penrith's  Premiership push | NRL.com

George Mimis, who acts as Nathan’s agent and previously advised Ivan as well, said: “There’s no risk for Penrith in signing them both long-term. They’re a beautiful family, they’re loyal, and they genuinely love Penrith, the region and the community. We’d definitely be open to having a discussion. They’ve developed that great culture, so why would they want to look elsewhere?”

Ivan and Nathan Cleary have led the Panthers to four-straight grand final appearances, culminating in three premierships in the last three years. The Panthers have built one of the NRL’s most successful dynasties in rugby league history, and there’s no reason why it can’t continue.

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