Jett Cleary's move to Warriors confirmed as Panthers rocked by sad family development

The younger brother of Nathan Cleary is trying to make a name for himself.

The Warriors have confirmed that Jett Cleary, the younger brother of Penrith Panthers star Nathan and son of coach Ivan, has signed a three-year deal to join the NZ club. Speculation had emerged in recent weeks that the Warriors had made another play for the 19-year-old half, after also attempting to recruit him last year.

The move failed last season, but the Warriors confirmed on Tuesday they'd landed their man this time around. Jett Cleary will join the New Zealand club from 2025 in a bid to further his ambition of playing first grade.

It means the famous Cleary name returns to Auckland, with Jett's father Ivan the Warriors' most-capped coach. Ivan led the club to the 2011 grand final during his 154 games as coach of the Kiwi outfit.

Jett Cleary and brother Nathan.
Nathan's brother Jett Cleary has signed with the Warriors. Image: Getty/Penrith Panthers

“It’s an exciting time for us to be able to bring a player of Jett’s quality into our pathways system from next season,” Warriors chief executive Cameron George said in a statement. “The Cleary family has the strongest links with our club through Ivan’s time with us and it’s a special thrill to sign Jett and have the Cleary name back with us. We’re again truly grateful for the cooperation from Penrith and Ivan in helping to make this possible.”

Jett was born in Auckland in 2005 when Ivan was an assistant coach at the Warriors, before he took over as head coach in 2006. Warriors general manager of recruitment, pathways and development Andrew McFadden added: "Jett has a big future in front of him and we’re excited to give him the chance to develop in our system.

"While he was only young when he left New Zealand to go back to Australia, Jett has the benefit of strong family ties with the club and with Auckland as well. He brings wonderful pedigree with him as well as a great understanding of the game after coming through Penrith’s fantastic pathways.”

Jett Cleary with Nathan, Ivan and the rest of the family.
Jett Cleary (back) with Nathan, Ivan and the rest of the family after the NRL grand final in 2023.

Panthers fans have been dreaming of a Nathan and Jett Cleary combination in the halves for the last few years. But Penrith have a number of good young playmakers who are though to be ahead of Jett, who currently plays in the Panthers' Under-19 side in SG Ball.

With Jarome Luai moving to the Wests Tigers next season, a spot has opened up at No.6 for the three-time defending champions. But the likes of Jack Cole, Brad Schneider and Daine Laurie would all be preferred to Jett at this young stage of his career.

Sources close to the Cleary family have reportedly revealed that Jett wants to step out of his brother's shadow and make a name for himself. The 19-year-old obviously thinks a move to a different club will help him achieve that. Other young halves like Jacob Arthur and Kyle Flanagan have struggled in the past while playing under their coaching fathers (Brad and Shane), with claims of 'nepotism' following them whenever they get picked.

Shaun Johnson is in the final year of his contract with the Warriors, meaning the Kiwi club might be on the lookout for a new halfback. But the 33-year-old Johnson revealed this week that the signing of James Fisher-Harris from the Panthers might convince him to play on.

"It's certainly something to celebrate (Fisher-Harris' signing) and want to play on for," Johnson revealed on Monday. "I’m taking it week by week. For me to make that decision to play on, I’ve got to actually receive a contract offer, and that hasn’t happened yet. But I am certainly starting those conversations with the right people, catching up with my manager today."


Johnson has been battling an Achilles injury that will see him rested at some point over the next few weeks. But the Kiwi international isn't showing any signs of slowing down and has been in brilliant form over the last month.

"A hundred per cent would love to have Shaun around again," Warriors coach Andrew Webster said. "I think he's huge for our team, he's important, love the way he is playing but it's only early in the season. We've got a good relationship, we'll work it out when we can."

Jett Cleary starred for the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges at the national schoolboys championships in 2023. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph last year, Jett expressed his desire to play alongside Nathan in the NRL one day. “One hundred per cent it’s a dream," he said. "I couldn’t think of anything better. It’d be sick.

“Obviously I just want to try be like him. He’s set the bar high so I’ve got to train real hard to get there. He helps my game out heaps. He gives me tips and that, so does dad.”

Jett was overlooked for the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges team at under-15 level, but used the setback as motivation. Kyle Churchill, who coached Jett at St Dominic's College and for the NSW CCC team, said last year: "He is forging his own path. For someone in his position, who could be arrogant and entitled, he is far from that. He is very hardworking and humble in his approach to the game."