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NRL premiership-winning coach Ivan Cleary has experienced a nasty health scare, with a blood clot from his leg spreading to his lungs forcing him into ICU.
As a result, the Penrith mentor has been prevented from flying to Redcliffe for the reigning premiers' match against the Warriors on Saturday.
But an upbeat Cleary, who missed last weekend's win over Newcastle, downplayed the scare on Thursday, saying the clot "wasn't as dramatic" as it sounds.
"I had a little bit of a scare on the weekend," Cleary said. "I had a blood clot in my leg, which ended up in my lungs as well. Obviously once that happens you get sent straight to the hospital.
"I got really well looked after and luckily I've got a good team behind me and we got another win up. I'm all right. It's a bit of a drag but we'll get there."
Cleary said the blood clot had been caused by an ongoing issue with his knee, which became infected earlier in the season and had twice been operated on before the clot emerged.
But the coach said he could see a light at the end of the tunnel and was planning to be back on deck for Penrith's clash with the Sydney Roosters on July 1.
"I've just got to be on medication for a while," he said.
His absence will present long-serving assistant Cameron Ciraldo wiith another audition for a head coaching job, which Cleary concedes could come at a rival club as early as next year.
Canterbury, Wests Tigers and the Warriors are all looking for a head coach with Ciraldo linked to all of them.
Cleary warned his right-hand man not to move to the wrong club.
"Of course I'd like him to stay," Cleary said. "But he's my mate and I'd like to help him as well in his own career and what he wants.
"I've had some experience that I could help him with but he's a smart guy and he's just working through it.
"One thing's for sure, if you don't take the right job it's a pretty short career."
Cleary said Craig Fitzgibbon had provided the perfect template for Ciraldo, as the former Sydney Roosters star served as Trent Robinson's long-term assistant before taking on the leading role with Cronulla.
"He was probably in a similar position to Cam for a very long time and it looks like he's probably landed a pretty good (job)," Cleary added, with the Sharks destined to play finals football this season.