Ivan Cleary's staggering claim about Phil Gould after Panthers triumph

Ivan Cleary and Phil Gould, pictured here after the NRL grand final.
Ivan Cleary has opened up about the influence of Phil Gould on his coaching career. Image: Getty

Ivan Cleary has opened up about the influence Phil Gould has had on his coaching career, revealing he still bases a "hell of a lot" of what he does on what he learned from Gould.

Gould infamously sacked Cleary as Panthers coach in 2014, just three years after bringing him to the club after he'd led the Warriors to the grand final in 2011.

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The Panthers finished fourth in 2014, but a rebuild that Gould dubbed his 'five-year plan' wasn't happening fast enough and Cleary found himself without a job.

Gould was the general manager of football at Penrith at the time and said he could tell that Cleary was burnt out and needed a break.

Cleary returned to coaching in 2017, taking up a four-year deal with the Wests Tigers.

But the opportunity to coach son Nathan lured him back to the Panthers in 2019 and he left the Tigers despite having two years remaining on his contract.

All Cleary has done since returning to the Panthers is win, making three-straight grand finals from 2020 to 2022 and winning the last two.

Cleary's relationship with Gould suffered as a result of the 2014 sacking, but the coach opened up in the aftermath of Sunday night's grand final about the influence that 'Gus' continues to have on his coaching.

“I still base a hell of a lot of my coaching on what I learned from him," Cleary told Fox Sports.

“He’s done an amazing amount of work for this club, we wouldn’t have the academy we have now without him.

“He’s just one of so many people and you could name - everyone I’m seeing in this room for starters.

“We can’t do what we do unless everyone is aligned and everyone’s got the same common goal and that’s what we do.”

Phil Gould, pictured here talking with Ivan Cleary during a Penrith Panthers training session in 2014.
Phil Gould talks with Ivan Cleary during a Penrith Panthers training session in 2014. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)

Phil Gould speaks out after Penrith Panthers triumph

Gould was general manager of football at the Panthers for eight years, and despite his five-year plan coming to fruition a little later than planned, his vision has proved instrumental in the success the club is now enjoying.

The Panthers won all four grades from Under 18s to the NRL in 2022 - the first time that has ever happened in 115 years of rugby league in Australia.

"All these blokes came to us as teenagers, most of them. Now they have got wives, families, kids, houses, cars – they have grown up as a group of players together," Gould said on Channel 9 after the grand final.

“One telling factor that I saw leading into this game is that 13 of this 17 not only came through the Panthers Academy, but have played 100 per cent of their NRL football with the one club.

“That is an extraordinary statistic, and to think that this club has produced not only more NRL players over the last 10 years, but more representative-class players (than any other club).”

Ivan and Nathan Cleary, pictured here celebrating after the NRL grand final.
Ivan and Nathan Cleary celebrate after the NRL grand final. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

As well as the NRL premiership, the Panthers also won the SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and NSW Cup competitions.

“This year, to win all four of the senior representative competitions, plus the NRL, shows that it is just the beginning,” Gould said.

“This isn’t the end of it, this is the start of it. It really is a strong club, it is set up better than any other and they deserve everything they get.

“The key to it is having good people – the Academy is not the bricks and mortar, the Academy is the people that work within it. The Academy is an inspiration for all kids in western Sydney and western NSW.

“Every demographic of our western Sydney culture is represented in this team – all the way from Dubbo down into the heart of the Penrith and Blacktown area.”

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