Ivan Cleary cops backlash over 'poor' act in NRL press conference after Panthers loss

The Penrith coach didn't offer much to journalists after his side's staggering loss to the Warriors.

Ivan Cleary is copping backlash around the NRL world after a brusk press conference in which he only spoke for a total of 27 seconds following the Panthers' shock loss to the Warriors on Sunday. The Warriors pulled off an extraordinary upset over the three-time defending premiers at Suncorp Stadium despite being without a host of their top-line stars.

After losing Shaun Johnson and Tohu Harris to injury in the week, the Warriors also saw Wayde Egan ruled out with concussion early in the game. But Andrew Webster's side showed incredible resiliency to come back and beat the Panthers 22-20, with Dylan Edwards missing a late penalty goal attempt that would have sent the game into extra-time.

Ivan Cleary, pictured here after the Panthers' loss to the Warriors.
Ivan Cleary wasn't in a particularly good mood after the Panthers' loss to the Warriors. Image: NRL

The Panthers are also without superstar halfback Nathan Cleary, and had Taylan May stood down during the week after he was arrested on domestic violence charges. Coach Cleary wasn't in much of a mood to discuss the May situation after the match, and his entire press conference drew the ire of a number of NRL identities.

Cleary only spoke for a total of 27 seconds and offered very little to a number of questions from journalists. Most notably, the Panthers coach never actually commended the Warriors for the win - even though they're coached by his former assistant Webster.

Taine Tuaupiki, pictured here after the Warriors' win over the Panthers.
Taine Tuaupiki celebrates after the Warriors' win over the Panthers.

Daily Telegraph columnist 'The Oracle' posted the entire press conference on social media and wrote: "I think Ivan Cleary is a wonderful coach, but this isn’t good enough. Isaah Yeo did all the talking. Rival coaches have been on the receiving end of hammerings from his side, but are nowhere near as salty as that. He spoke for a total of 27 seconds."

Others described Cleary's presser as "poor" and "pathetic" and questioned why he failed to mention how well the Warriors played under extreme adversity. However others thought it was perfectly normal for a coach to be upset by a loss, particularly considering it came against such an under-strength opponent.

Penrith repeatedly put themselves under pressure against the Warriors with ill-discipline and uncharacteristic errors. Jarome Luai and Dylan Edwards had flashes of brilliance, but questions will swirl about whether or not the Panthers can win without Nathan Cleary.

Ivan Cleary said he didn't believe May's arrest had distracted his usually clinical side when quizzed post-match. "No, I don't think so," he said. "We just got on with life. We're here to play footy and that's what we did. We just didn't play well enough today."

Before the game, Luai said the Panthers would remain "professional" in the face of adversity and had a similar attitude afterwards. "We don't use anything as an excuse," the five-eighth said. "We turned every page in our preparation and that's all it came down to."


Captain Yeo admonished himself for getting sent to the sin-bin in the second half for a blatant professional foul when he was off-side. The Warriors scored two tries to erase the Panthers' 10-4 lead while Yeo was in the bin.

"(It was) just stupidity," Yeo said. "Just a bad judgement call early in that second half when you already know we're not at our best. It made the day hard for ourselves. That was poor leadership."