23/04/2024

Ivan Cleary facing the media before the sides final against South Sydney. (Photo: Penrith Panthers)

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said that his side is ready for anything as they prepare to face the Rabbitohs on Saturday night.

Penrith Panthers head coach Ivan Cleary has said that his side is ready for anything as the Panthers prepare to face South Sydney Rabbitohs this weekend.

A war of words has broken about between Cleary and Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett called out the Panthers for their illegal tactics.

The Rabbitohs have come under fire over the late and high hits on Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary. Coach Ivan Cleary has said that they’ve got to focus on their own game.

“We’re ready for anything,” Cleary said.

 “It’s not going to change the way we play we’ve just got to prepare like we always do and we always respect the opposition and prepare through their strengths and weaknesses.

“We’ve done that this week. We know how we play and what works for us best and that’s been our main focus this week.”

When asked about the Round 23 match against both sides and the way the Rabbitohs treated the Panthers halfback, Cleary said that they can only go off the evidence in front of them.

“You only go off the evidence.

“They’ve given away plenty of penalties and their discipline hasn’t been where it needed to be I guess so that speaks for itself.”

While South Sydney is the prime example, they haven’t been the only side giving the Panthers some extra attention which Cleary said isn’t such a bad thing.

“I think we probably flew through the first half of last season under the radar a little bit, I don’t think we were ever expected to do much last year, I think we were actually tipped to win the wooden spoon by some experts last year.

“I guess it’s probably a good thing for us really, we’ve experienced finals games, big games, origin games a lot of our players played this year.

“All those types of big games always bring that little bit extra here and there and you’ve got to deal with that and that’s just how it goes.

“It’s nothing too out of the ordinary [they’re] all things why people love finals games I guess.”

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While during the finals many believe the officials tend to put the whistle away, Cleary said that he trusts the officials to call the game how they see it.   

“It’s not my job to referee the game so the officials are experienced as well so they understand how it works.

“I’m not going into the game worried about that, you just expect the referee to referee the game as he sees it.

 The officials have probably been getting less involved over the last four weeks, so we’ll probably see that again, but I think some of the penalties against Souths weren’t discretionary they had to give them.

“I’m sure that will be the same case if that happens tomorrow night.”

To be able to get the win, the Panthers are focused on putting the defensive pressure on South Sydney as well as applying the pressure to Rabbitohs star Adam Reynolds.

“Clearly we want to defend well, hopefully, limit how much yardage they can get, it’s up to us to try and put some pressure on him [Adam Reynolds]  as well.

“We did that to a certain degree last time but he’s one of the best in the game so think just by the amount of talk about Nathans kicking game it probably explains how important those guys are for their teams.”

The Panthers will take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs tomorrow night at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.

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