Penrith coach Ivan Cleary emotional after presenting the Clive Churchill Medal to his son Nathan


Penrith coach Ivan Cleary didn’t just get to lift the NRL trophy with his son, but got to enjoy another moment he’ll never forget.

Dad moments don’t come much better than celebrating a premiership together, but Penrith coach Ivan Cleary couldn’t believe he got to present his son Nathan with the Clive Churchill Medal, too.

Coach Cleary revealed emotions spilt over when he saw his superstar son Nathan on the field after the Panthers claimed a thrilling 14-12 win over South Sydney in the NRL grand final.

But then Ivan got to live out a fantastic dad moment when he put the Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match around Nathan’s neck.

“That was completely out of this world,” Ivan said.

“I was standing there like, I couldn’t have even written that story. I didn’t know it was happening, I didn’t know I had to do it.

“I don’t know how to explain it. That’s my boy.”

The Clearys entered a special club in Panthers history after coach John Lang and his son, prop Martin, shared premiership glory the last time the club triumphed in 2003.

Ivan revealed their coach/player relationship had not been all smooth sailing, but said being closer to his son was one of the reasons he took on the Panthers job after a much-publicised and messy exit from the Wests Tigers in 2018.

“Daily, he’s part of the team, captain, player, but we have always been able to still be father and son. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to coach him in the first place; I felt like our personalities would work,” Ivan said.

“There were some hard times a few years ago, where I felt a bit guilty and his form wasn’t where it could have been. In the end I think that helped.

“When the siren went, when I saw him there, he’s still my boy.”

Nathan said it was a dream come true to win a title with his dad.

“It’s not about us, but it’s special,” he said.

“A lot of people wrote us off, but now to do it, it’s crazy.

“I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid.

“I was so grateful to play one NRL game and then to win a grand final is crazy; to do it with dad and the people I’ve grown up with is special.”

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