Regan Campbell-Gillard isn’t too fussed about the coaching situation. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne)
Regan Campbell-Gillard isn’t too fussed about the coaching situation. (AAP Image/Brendon Thorne)

Panthers players in the dark over Cleary

PENRITH Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard says "there are a few boys who want a few answers" surrounding who will coach the side next year.

While Cameron Ciraldo has been backed to continue as the Panthers coach, speculation mounts that Ivan Cleary could make an early exit from the Wests Tigers and link up with Penrith for next season.

Campbell-Gillard said one moment he was hearing Cleary would come, the next he was being told it would be Ciraldo.

He anticipates Ciraldo will remain at least in the short-term.

 

"I don't even know what's going on," Campbell-Gillard said. "It's out of our hands. You ask the question but the answer is 'you'll find out soon'.

"Things like this you have to wait. It will happen out of the blue. I think Ciro (Ciraldo) will keep the job and him and Wall (assistant coach Peter Wallace) will work hard as a team.

"We'll see what happens in the next month or so."

Cleary’s arrival will happen — we’re just not sure when... (AAP Image/Craig Golding)
Cleary’s arrival will happen — we’re just not sure when... (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

It is just a matter of when, not if, Cleary will make his coaching return to the Panthers despite having two years remaining on his Tigers deal.

Regardless of when Cleary returns, Campbell-Gillard said he was looking forward to reuniting with the coach who handed him his first-grade debut in 2015.

"I have a soft spot with Ivan after giving me my first crack," said Campbell-Gillard, who re-signed until the end of 2024 earlier this year.

"I have respect. He is a great person and a great coach. If he comes back, happy days.

"We just have to see what happens. I don't have a clue. If Ivan comes back, he comes back.

Cameron Ciraldo will keep things ticking over. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Cameron Ciraldo will keep things ticking over. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

"I always spoke highly of Ivan. He has played the game before so he knows what it's like. He is a great person off the field and a great coach. Most of us want the decision to be made soon. So we can focus on having a pre-season and giving the premiership a real crack next year."

Campbell-Gillard pointed to halfback Nathan Cleary's long-term contract extension last month as a potential insight into who may be coaching the side.

The Kangaroos prop said Penrith were in the midst of their premiership window.

"Halfway through the year we were sitting first," Campbell-Gillard said. "Then a few bad games and we were fighting to stay in the eight. It drives you to push to get this premiership.

"It's a hard competition to get. A couple of bad games can bite you. We just have to keep working hard.

"I know we have the team to do it. It's if we believe in ourselves and working hard each week and not give opportunities to other teams."

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