Ivan Cleary touted for vacant Wests Tigers coaching job

Ivan Cleary is the man for the job as Wests Tigers head coach, NSW coach Laurie Daley says.

Ivan Cleary is the man for the job as Wests Tigers head coach, NSW coach Laurie Daley says.

Former Warriors and Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is the early favourite to take over at the Wests Tigers NRL club after the shock sacking of coach Jason Taylor.

New South Wales coach Laurie Daley believes the Tigers' next coach needs to show some tough love, and on the TV show NRL 360 on Monday suggested Cleary would offer what the struggling rugby league club needs. 

"He obviously worked out a great formula for the Warriors," Daley said of Cleary, who took the Warriors to the finals in four of his six seasons there including a grand final appearance in 2011 and guided Penrith to a preliminary final.

Jason Taylor was sacked after just three rounds at the Wests Tigers this year.
Mark Nolan/ Getty Images

Jason Taylor was sacked after just three rounds at the Wests Tigers this year.

"A lot of coaches have been to the Warriors and it's been the end of their career, whereas Ivan has gone there and it's enhanced his career," Daley said.

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"He got them to a grand final, he's got them into positions to win competitions," Daley said.

'Yes, they came up short, but for me he seems to have a good rapport with people, in terms of the playing group.

"[He's] very knowledgeable and he's able to extract the best out of his players and you see that from everywhere that he's been, he's had success."

Tigers premiership hero Benji Marshall, who is now with Brisbane, feels Cleary might be the the man for the job.

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Marshall said the Tigers lacked leadership and needed experience to lighten the load on highly-rated halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.

"I think whoever they bring in, they need to bring in some leadership and direction for those guys, who can take a bit of pressure off them," Marshall said on Fox Sports.

"I think maybe a guy like Ivan Cleary or someone like that, who has been there and had a lot of experience can do a good job for them."

Another contender for the Tigers role was North Queensland Cowboys assistant coach and former Tigers under-20 premiership-winning coach Todd Payten.

Daley believed Payten would make a good head coach, but felt the Tigers needed a veteran mentor.

"I think the Tigers need some tough love," Daley said on NRL 360.

"I think they need an experienced coach to get in there and actually tell the players what they need to hear."


Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said there was no "defined timeline" to the process of replacing Taylor as coach.

"We'll follow a formal process and whenever that process comes to a conclusion we'll make everyone aware," Pasoce said.

"There's no timeline - if it takes until the end of the year then it takes until the end of the year. We're more focused on making sure we find the right person for this job."

The comments came on Monday after news broke of the sacking and speculation began to mount over the timing of the decision.

Within an hour of their decision to axe Taylor, the club received four calls from agents putting forward the names of their clients. But the Tigers insisted the job was interim coach Andrew Webster's to lose.

Although the Tigers were backing Webster, who coached Moses and Brooks through the grades, they will also begin a six-week search that is set to see Todd Payten's name come up alongside former Penrith coach Cleary and even Dogs boss Des Hasler.

The two-time premiership-winner is off contract at Belmore and has the runs on the board over a long period of time. However, the Tigers, who are still paying Robbie Farah A$700,000 (NZ$767,000), would need to decide if they can afford his services.


Payten had the backing of the playing group, having forged a strong bond with them during his time at the club before he joined North Queensland as an assistant. He was, however, overlooked as Mick Potter's successor and didn't leave the club on the best of terms - which could work against him.

Still, Payten did have one possible advantage in that his manager, Isaac Moses, was also the agent of star quartet Aaron Woods, James Tedesco, Brooks and Moses. It was understood the club was reluctant to increase Moses' influence at the Tigers given the perception he has held them to ransom over the future of the big four.

"If any coach, whether it's Todd Payten, Ivan Cleary or anyone else, wants to put their hat in the ring, we'll entertain that within the process," Pascoe said.

"Andrew would be a part of that mix. We hold Andrew in the highest regard. He's certainly a part of that mix and he's got the opportunity now and it lies with him." 

While Woods has previously indicated he wants to know who will be running the side in 2018 before he commits to a deal, Pascoe doesn't believe that is going to be a stumbling block and insists the players won't be consulted.

"No. It's a really clear point - the players do not decide who coaches this organisation," Pascoe said.

The Tigers hierarchy met the players after telling Taylor of their decision to sack him, asking them to start taking responsibility for their performances after a horror fortnight that resulted in 34- and 40-point losses to Penrith and Canberra respectively.

"The players have to take responsibility," chair Marina Go said.

"We do as an organisation as well. From the board down, we all take responsibility for where we sit today. But the players - we had a conversation with the players this afternoon and they are taking this on board. They're not shying away from the fact they need to step up.

"We obviously had a conversation with Jason this afternoon and clearly he was disappointed - as you'd imagine he would be. It's very difficult news to receive and difficult to deliver. We obviously feel for him. Clearly he was disappointed."

- AAP with Sydney Morning Herald


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