Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was in fine form as he appeared on the Today show while still celebrating his team’s stunning grand final win on Monday morning when he trolled host Karl Stefanovic and Sara Abo with a joke about his son Nathan.
Penrith’s 26-24 win over Brisbane will go down as possibly the greatest decider ever played, with Nathan Cleary winning the Clive Churchill Medal as the best player on the field after orchestrating his side’s record comeback.
Ivan Cleary was still celebrating the win with a beer in hand when he somehow emerged for an interview just after 6am – and he wasted no time in making fun of Broncos fan Stefanovic .
After telling the hosts he was “feeling pretty good about life,” the coach told Stefanovic: “Queenslanders, they often fail at the end, so we knew they would falter.”
As laughter erupted in the studio, he quickly added, “That’s a joke and you know it!”
Asked about his son’s stunning effort to turn the tide of the match by taking one try, landing a crucial 40-20 kick and scoring himself in the final minutes, Cleary sent the hosts into hysterics with his answer.
“I said to him yesterday that if I had married someone else he would have been a pretty bad player, so I have to thank his mother for everything he has because it certainly doesn’t come from me.”
‘That’s brilliant!’ said a delighted Abo.
Cleary continued, “I’m so proud of him. You know what? He owes me, I think. “I’ve taken him to so many things and made him lunches and done all this stuff, and he basically makes my life easy now, so God love you, Nath.”
Cleary hugs his son after leading the Panthers to the biggest comeback in Grand Final history with a performance for the ages
Nathan lifted the Clive Churchill Medal as the best player on the field, with Andrew Johns calling his effort ‘the best performance by a halfback in a grand final ever’
When Stefanovic asked if he had had “1000 drinks”, the coach said no and admitted: “I’m about to sneak out, I’m actually doing it behind the door, that’s what I was trying to do, and then we you got me talking. the exit.
“I’ll try to sleep for an hour.”
The reigning premiers looked completely out of it on Sunday night after letting Ezra Mam score a quick second-half hat-trick, but put up a fantastic fight to break Brisbane hearts – with Nathan in the thick of the comeback.
He broke the line with a dummy to set up Moses Leota for the Panthers’ first try of the second half. His 40-20 kick was crucial for their second four-pointer, after which he sealed the result by beating three defenders to plant the ball. crossed the line with just two minutes to go.
Ivan Cleary was given the traditional dip after his team won their third consecutive premiership – before turning up with a beer in hand at 6am on Monday
“This doesn’t even feel real at the moment, it feels like a dream,” the halfback said afterwards.
‘The start of the second half was a nightmare but our mentality was that we were down but never out.
‘That’s certainly the case with Origin (in terms of difficulty). So much tiredness. I told myself to keep going, keep going, keep fighting, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns was impressed with Cleary’s play.
“That was the best performance ever from a halfback in a grand final,” he said after the siren.