Cleary forging path to NRL greatness

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

He's only 23 but Nathan Cleary has now added NRL premiership winner and Clive Churchill medallist to an impressive list of career achievements.

The Penrith co-captain still has potentially a decade at the top level ahead of him but has a resume to suggest he's on track to become an all-time great of the game.

As well as his premiers' ring and Clive Churchill Medal, Cleary has appeared in four State of Origin campaigns for NSW, twice finished runner up in the Dally M medal count and was last year's RLPA Players' Champion.

He's also widely expected to replace Daly Cherry-Evans as Kangaroos halfback if COVID allows Australia to resume playing Tests in 2022.

Sunday's victory means Cleary has lost just one competitive match in 2021 for the Panthers and NSW, despite playing the back half of the season with a dodgy shoulder that will almost certainly require off-season surgery.

Adding to Cleary's joy was the fact his premiership dream was achieved playing under his father Ivan, with the pair becoming the second father/son duo to win a grand final in NRL history after John and Martin Lang won the 2003 decider with the Panthers.

"It's special. It's not about us but it's special," Cleary 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."

Given his age, and the youth of the Penrith team as a whole, there's surely more special times ahead on the path to rugby league greatness for Cleary.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting