Cleary won't carry injury into round one

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Nathan Cleary won't play round one if he is still carrying his injured shoulder, with the Penrith half racing the clock to be fit for the start of the NRL season.

Cleary's heroic effort to help Penrith lift the trophy with a dodgy right shoulder was finally recognised at the foot of the mountain on Saturday at Penrith's fan celebration day.

The 24-year-old received one of the biggest receptions from the 10,000 fans at Bluebest Stadium following an open-top bus parade through the centre of Penrith some 48 days after the grand final.

Penrith players were also presented the keys to the city, with co-captain Isaah Yeo among the few missing with his partner giving birth.

The unvaccinated Apisai Koroisau and axed Tyrone May were also absent, with Kurt Capewell among others to return from rival clubs to join former teammates on stage.

Cleary remained in a sling for Saturday's celebrations some six weeks after surgery, but is expected to emerge from it in the next week.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said his son's recovery was ahead of schedule with the Panthers hopeful he will return for the season-opener against Manly.

But Nathan said he would not rush back if he feels he is still carrying his shoulder as he was at the end of 2021.

"It's a long way away but I'm trying to tick each box as it comes," Cleary said.

"The aim is for (between) round 1 and 3, but there is no rush.

"At the start if everything went right then I would be right for round one.

"But there is a lot that goes into it and mentally as well just to know how confident I am using it.

"I definitely don't want to come back and be favouring it or anything like that. We will see how it goes."

Cleary's influence against Manly will be crucial for Penrith as well as the NRL, who want to build up the season-opener with the Clive Churchill Medallist up against the Dally M winner Tom Trbojevic.

Cleary has lost just three games at NRL level in the past two years, while his record beside Jarome Luai in the halves stands at 41-3.

The NSW playmaker has also a potentially long year, with a World Cup in the UK at the end of the season.

But Cleary said that wouldn't factor into whether he returned for the season-opener or eased into the campaign.

"If it's right, it's right," Cleary said.

"I want to be playing footy, I don't want to be watching from the sideline.

"But in saying that I don't want to be pushing it to get back out there either. I will take all those things into account."

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