Ivan Cleary has had his contract with Penrith Panthers terminated.
Ivan Cleary has had his contract with Penrith Panthers terminated.

Cleary steps scandal


NEW Zealand Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary was doing his best to side step the issue of salary cap breaches during a media conference at Kingscliff yesterday.

On the Tweed to promote tonight's clash between the Cudgen Hornet and the NZ Warriors' development squad, Cleary took the club line when asked about the controversy which could see the Warriors docked six points before the NRL season even kicks off.

"We have a very capable management team in place and I have every confidence they will be able to sort things out," Cleary said.

The club has been rocked by revelations it breached the NRL's salary cap and faces heavy fines and possibly loss of premiership points.

"It's cleary an issue but I'll leave it to our management to sort out, we have to keep our focus on football," Cleary said.

"We're not worrying about the NRL position, that's up to our board." Warriors skipper Steve Price refused to be drawn on the issue after having weathered a similar scenario at former club Bulldogs.

"This is a different circumstance but I have faith in the board and we'll move on,' Price said.

Price are Kiwi international Reuben Wiki, who signed with the Warriors from Canberra on a deal rumoured to be worth $400,000 a year, are said to be at the centre of the NRL's investigation into the breach over payment packages.

Meanwhile, the Warriors will welcome back Kiwis fullback Brent Webb for tomorrow night's clash.

Webb missed the Warriors' losses to Canberra and North Queensland with a niggling groin injury suffered during the Kiwis' triumphant Tri-Nations campaign but is back to full fitness.

Webb's return sees Tony Martin, who started the first two trials, shifted onto the bench.

The Bulldogs have been boosted by the return from injury by centre Willie Tonga.

Tonga, who has been sidelined with a knee injury he sustained in round nine against Brisbane last year, has been named in a near full-strength Bulldogs side.

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