Deep issues at Penrith but Cleary has plan

Matt Encarnacion
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary admits he is dealing with "deep issues" at the NRL club

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary says he's got a plan and it's "going to be sweet" but he admits deep issues are engulfing the NRL club.

What the problems are and how he intends to fix them are topics, the embattled coach is refusing to divulge.

Considered title contenders when Cleary arrived in the summer, the last-placed Panthers are in the midst of their worst losing streak amid speculation of player unrest.

"What you're seeing on the field is an outcome of deeper issues, obviously," Cleary said ahead of Thursday's round 11 match against Parramatta.

"I think the last three weeks have shown that, on the field, there's some things deeper down that we've got to find out.

"I've worked out quite a few things in the last month that has given us a plan going forward. Looking forward to getting into it."

Asked to elaborate on what he's figured out, Cleary said: "Nah, I'm not going to do that. So many factors go into it that you can't always pinpoint exactly what it is."

"It's a combination of things. I'm not going to talk out of school there.

"We're very confident in our players and our staff. I love the community here. I'm confident in everything about this place. But we need a bit of a shift.

"I've got a plan and it's going to be sweet."

Cleary denied rumours of a split between the playing ranks, however did reveal being unaware of some of their troubles when he returned to the club this year.

"You know what, I didn't know everything," he said.

The plan seemingly doesn't immediately include New Zealand international Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, who has been left out of the team to face the Eels.

Cleary was unwilling to discuss the reasons for his axing, nor the return of Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Josh Mansour from their stints in reserve grade.

"I don't want to discuss selection. I don't think it's fair on anyone. It's an internal thing again, speaking in school," Cleary said.

"Clearly we're looking for change. A lot of people here, including myself aren't performing well enough. Sometimes you're going to make some changes.

"That's what we're doing."

Asked about Campbell-Gillard and Mansour's return, Cleary said: "I'm not going to talk about selection.

Pressed further on Watene-Zelezniak's exclusion, Cleary said: "Yeah, there's a reason, but I'm not going to discuss that either."

The eighth-placed Eels have dropped two in succession but return to their new home at Bankwest Stadium, where they are two wins from as many games.

Penrith will also be without suspended veteran James Maloney, with youngster Jarome Luai partnering Nathan Cleary in the halves.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Penrith will look to avoid conceding at least 22 points in a seventh straight game for the first time in club history.

* Penrith concede the most penalties per game, while the Eels concede the least.

* The Eels are looking for a fourth straight home win for the first time since 2009.