Ivan Cleary says he was not expecting a job offer from the Panthers when he agreed to meet with them. (AAP: Paul Miller)
Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has dismissed speculation linking him with the Penrith Panthers, insisting he intends to remain with his current club for the remainder of his contract.
Cleary read out a statement ahead of the Tigers’ clash with Canberra on Saturday, in which he admitted to meeting with the Panthers, but insisted he knew nothing about their plans to offer him a contract, or to sack Anthony Griffin.
“I advised the Panthers of my ongoing contract status with the Wests Tigers,” Cleary said.
“I subsequently advised the chair and CEO of the Wests Tigers of the discussions I’d had with the Panthers.”
He had kind words for his current club, saying he would see out the final two years of his contract.
“I am enjoying my contribution at this club. The club’s growing nicely. Everyone associated with this club should be proud of the direction it’s heading in,” he said.
“I respect all the people and supporters involved with this club and I intend to honour this contract.”
According to the man he sacked as coach, Penrith Panthers general manager Phil Gould is a control freak. (AAP: Joel Carrett)
Cleary said he was keen to work with his son Nathan, who plays for the Panthers, at some stage during their careers, but that would not be happening over the next two years.
“It is common knowledge that my son Nathan and I have acknowledged our desire to work together at some time. That remains the case,” he said.
“Today I’m absolutely focused on our match with the Canberra Raiders and I’m happy to take questions around that game.”
Cleary reiterated his desire to work with his son Nathan at some stage. (AAP: Brendon Thorne)
Griffin’s sacking on Monday afternoon, four weeks out from the finals series, sparked a war of words between the coach and Penrith supremo Phil Gould.
Gould said on Tuesday the club had received numerous applications since he was shown the door.
“We’ve already had 12 applications come in overnight from people within the game,” Gould said.
He also said the club had a clear preferred option, believed to be Cleary.