NRL 'takes back' Nathan Cleary's Clive Churchill medal after 'gaffe'

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·Sports Reporter
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Nathan Cleary was asked to return the Clive Churchill medal on grand final night so a printing error could be corrected.
The NRL had to ask Nathan Cleary to return the Clive Churchill medal on grand final night so an engraving error could be corrected. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Yet another post-script to the 2021 NRL Grand Final has emerged, with the Penrith Panthers reportedly still fuming about a gaffe which saw the league request Nathan Cleary return his medal.

The Panthers captain was asked to give back the Clive Churchill medal shortly after it was awarded to him after leading Penrith to a 14-12 win over South Sydney.

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In an embarrassing turn of events for the NRL, Cleary was asked to return the medal in order to cover up an oversight which had seen the venue of the grand final printed on the medal as Stadium Australia.

In actual fact, the decider was moved to Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium due to border closures associated with coronavirus outbreaks in Sydney.

The medal gaffe is the latest in a string of noteworthy occurrences since the grand final which have reportedly led to a somewhat frosty relationship between the Panthers and NRL head office.

According to Channel 9, the Panthers are said to be 'fuming' about the gaffe, having apparently 'begged' Cleary not to mention the mistake.

The NRL are reportedly yet to return the updated medal to Cleary, with the Panthers' captain unable to show his grandmother the medal during a recent visit.

"They promised that they would correct it and return it ASAP and begged Nathan not to say anything about it," a Panthers source told the network.

"We were okay with it but it's been weeks and weeks and not so much as a word from them.

"Nathan went to see his grandmother yesterday for the first time in four months and naturally the first thing she wanted to see was the medal.

"She grew up in the era of (Clive) Churchill so it meant a lot to her - she was naturally disappointed.

"Hundreds of other people have asked Nathan to see the medal and he just had to say 'I don't have it'."

The source was then quoted as saying the NRL should be fined themselves for disrespecting Churchill, an apparent reference to the fine the Panthers received after the premiership trophy was damaged during grand final celebrations.

It's the latest turn in an increasingly acrimonious post-season, with the broken trophy, as well as social media posts from the likes of Tyrone May further aggravating the relationship between club and league.

Tyrone May forced to front Panthers board

May will be forced to front the Penrith board next week in a bid to save his Panthers career.

The 25-year-old was stood down by the club last week following his conduct on social media in the wake of the club's grand final win over South Sydney.

The Penrith board met on Wednesday where they issued him with a show cause notice.

"At today's meeting of the Panthers board of directors it was determined May's conduct constituted a serious breach of his NRL playing contract," the club said in a statement.

"In accordance with disciplinary protocol, May will have the opportunity to appear before the board next Wednesday before a sanction is imposed."

Tyrone May has deleted his Instagram account after a controversial post made after the NRL Grand Final.
After backlash over a controversial post made after Penrith's NRL grand final win, Tyrone May has decided to delete his Instagram account entirely. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

The utility was fined $7500 by the NRL for the post which "did not align with the values of the game" as he made reference to his conviction for recording an intimate image without consent.

A post showed a photo of May alongside coach Ivan Cleary outside a court in 2019 captioned with lyrics by rapper Drake which read: "And the dirt that they threw on my name turned to soil and I grew up out it. Time for y'all to figure out what y'all gon' do about it."

May was lucky to avoid jail at the time and missed the entirety of the 2019 season after being stood down by the NRL.

Magistrate Robyn Denes described his behaviour as "morally reprehensible" and sentenced him to 300 hours of community service.

May, who debuted for the club in 2017, has scored 10 tries in 56 games for the Panthers.

With AAP

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