I'll always be an NRL leader: Cleary

Matt Encarnacion
Nathan Cleary wants to become a better leader after his TikTok controversy during isolation

Nathan Cleary insists he never considered stepping down from his leadership role at Penrith despite causing a stir over his social distancing NRL suspension.

Cleary made a solid return from his two-game ban in Friday's loss to Parramatta, orchestrating a 10-point lead before the team faded in the second half to go down.

The Eels did their best to remind Cleary of his indiscretion when they played 'Blinding Lights' by The Weeknd, the song he was busted dancing to on Tiktok.

"I actually didn't notice that but my second kick I had the Parramatta supporters yelling out TikTok the whole time," Cleary said.

"That sent a tingle down my spine. I don't like hearing that, but it is what it is."

It's a reality the 22-year-old is expecting to face in the future, however he remains determined to mature into his role as a leader in the club.

He again conceded he had done the wrong thing by flouting social distancing laws on Anzac Day, which also resulted in a $1000 fine from police.

"Everyone's trying to find who to ridicule things with. There's always trying to find the negative and things like that," he said.

"It's no different to anything I've dealt with in the past."

But stepping down from the club's leadership group didn't enter his mind.

"It was definitely something I wanted to keep," Cleary said.

"This could almost be a building block for me to move forward past this and become better, not only as a person but as a leader. That's what I want to do.

"On the field I'm always going to be a leader. I've got the No.7 on my back.

"(But) off the field I've got a fair way to go. Leadership's bloody tough and I'm working hard on it."