Nathan Cleary's younger brother turning heads amid 'dream' of NRL team-up at Panthers

Could Ivan Cleary turn to his 17-year-old son when Jarome Luai departs the Panthers in 2025?

Nathan Cleary, pictured here with his family.
Nathan Cleary and brother Jett after the NRL grand final in 2021. Image: Instagram/Getty

There will be another Cleary running around for the Penrith Panthers this weekend when Nathan's younger brother Jett turns out in the SG Ball Cup. The 17-year-old has been working his way through the grades at the Panthers in the hopes of emulating his famous brother.

Nathan Cleary has led the Panthers to three consecutive premierships, and has established himself as a star for NSW in State of Origin and Australia at Test level. It's a lot to live up to, but Jett has been impressing over the last few years.

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With the junior representative season kicking off this weekend, there is sure to be a lot of eyes on the younger Cleary. The 17-year-old is a halfback like his brother, and starred for the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges at the national schoolboys championships last season.

There were rumours swirling last year that the Warriors were looking to poach Jett. But he has since spurned the rival interest to re-sign with the Panthers.

Nathan Cleary, pictured here with his parents and siblings after the 2023 grand final.
Nathan Cleary with his parents and siblings after the 2023 grand final. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Could Jett Cleary fill Jarome Luai void in 2025?

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.”

With Jarome Luai set to depart the Panthers for the Wests Tigers in 2025, a spot in the halves will open up. Whether or not an 18-year-old Jett will be ready to fill the void remains to be seen, but the youngster has certainly been taking strides in the right direction.

Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai in 2021.
Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

And Jett isn't relying on his famous surname alone. He was overlooked for the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges team at under-15 level, and has 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."

Nathan Cleary and family forging an NRL dynasty

Jett has been on hand to celebrate with his brother and father Ivan following the Panthers' back-to-back-to-back premierships since 2021. The Clearys are clearly a tight-knit bunch, with Nathan's mum and two sisters always showing their support.

Ivan even took a cheeky swipe at Nathan following some boozy celebrations after the grand final last year. In an interview with Today at 6am the next day, the coach said: "I actually said to him yesterday, if I had've married someone else, he would have been a pretty s**t player. I've got to thank his mum for everything that he has got. Certainty not from me. He owes me. I have driven him to that many things, made lunches for him. But now he is making life easy for me."

Ivan's wife Bec later said: "It's not true, I'm pretty sure that (Nathan) gets the talent from (Ivan) too. He was having a bit of fun I think, he'd had a few drinks so (he was) relaxed... he was funny."

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