Nathan Cleary ready for perfect Storm

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Ivan Cleary insists son Nathan is ready to wear whatever Melbourne throw at him in Saturday's preliminary final, backing his team to heed the lessons of last year's decider.

Nathan Cleary will again be the focus of the NRL at Suncorp Stadium, with the Storm making no secret of their plans to pressure the star No.7.

Cleary's kicking has been the story of the finals series, with all attention on it since he bombed South Sydney into submission in their round-robin match last month.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy refused to go down the path of Wayne Bennett on Friday, responding "next question" when asked about the talk of kick protection.

But after Christian Welch's linespeed made life hard for Cleary in last year's grand final and State of Origin, Bellamy is happy to admit that remains at the top of the Storm's radar.

"Obviously, we want to try and do that," Bellamy said.

"If he gets his own way (bombing) they're going to be hard to catch and that's not what we want to do to our back three.

"Any game you try to put pressure on the kicker.

"But obviously because of Nathan's great ability to make them hard to catch, we've practised that a bit this week.

"We want to make sure we give him as less time as possible to pick his spot and hit them as good as he wants to."

Penrith know it's coming too.

"You don't have to prepare Nat too much," Ivan said.

"He's played enough footy and big games to understand what's going to be coming at him."

Ivan Cleary also backed five-eighth Jarome Luai to return to form, confident he saw signs of a return to his best last week against Parramatta.

Nor is the coach concerned by Melbourne's long-held ability to silence x-factors in big games, after they did the best job of any team this year on Tom Trbojevic a fortnight ago.

"They play two completely different positions in Nat and Turbo," Cleary said.

"I think that the Turbo example was probably product of the whole team not really getting a game on that particular night."

Instead he has backed Penrith to learn their lessons from last year's grand final, when they suffered first-half stage fright and trailed 26-0 before a late fightback.

"There's a bit of an old adage you can lose one to win one," Cleary said.

"But it's not so much about that it's actually about just learning the subtle differences in those big games.

"The speed of the line that moves. Just lots of little things.

"It's part of the journey and the story ... all those little experiences allow you to prepare yourself a little bit better for the times ahead."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting