Ivan Cleary and Phil Gould could yet be reunited at Penrith.
Ivan Cleary and Phil Gould could yet be reunited at Penrith.

Tigers warn the Panthers: hands off Cleary

WESTS Tigers has issued a blunt memo to Penrith over coach Ivan Cleary - hands off.

Cleary is one of a number of candidates believed to be in line to jump into the Panthers' coaching role, following the immediate sacking of Anthony Griffin on Monday.

Cleary previously held the position at the foot of the mountains before being dumped by Penrith in a shock off-season announcement in 2016.

He's now in charge at the Tigers and contracted there for another two seasons.

And Tigers chairwoman Marina Go says that's where Cleary will stay.

"It is my view that Ivan will be with the Wests Tigers as head coach for at least another two years as he has a contract with us," Go told NRL.com.

Penrith general manager Phil Gould revealed on Tuesday morning the club had identified one person as the main target to replace Griffin.

But he wouldn't divulge who that person was, leaving the door open for speculation to continue.

Other leading candidates include Wayne Bennett, Trent Barrett and Michael Maguire.

Cameron Ciraldo has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach for the remainder of the 2018 season, and he could yet assume the role full-time.

It's unknown how Cleary would feel about moving back to Penrith given the club dumped him two years ago mid-contract.

But a move to the foot of the mountains would reunite him with his son Nathan, who is off contract at Penrith at the end of next season and hasn't yet decided his future.

Gould says he has "no problem" with Cleary and is adamant the relationship between them is fine.

Ivan and Nathan have already confirmed their desire to one day reunite as coach and player at the one NRL club.

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