Penrith Panthers bombshell in $13 million contract development around Ivan and Nathan Cleary

The three-time defending premiers are looking to lock up their coach and halfback until 2032.

The Penrith Panthers are reportedly set to begin negotiations to keep Ivan and Nathan Cleary at the club for life - in what could be a $13 million package deal for the father-son duo. Halfback Nathan and coach Ivan are under contract with the Panthers until the end of 2027, but according to the Daily Telegraph the club is looking to lock them down even longer amid the threat from NRL expansion teams.

According to the report, the Panthers are keen to extend the Clearys' contracts another five years until 2032. The figures being thrown around indicate Nathan could be on $1.5 million per season, and father Ivan a staggering $1.2 million.

Ivan and Nathan Cleary have led the Penrith Panthers to three premierships in a row. Image: Getty
Ivan and Nathan Cleary have led the Penrith Panthers to three premierships in a row. Image: Getty

It means a five-year extension for both would be worth an incredible $13.5 million - in what would be the richest package deal in NRL history. The North Sydney Bears have already indicated they'd be keen to get Ivan Cleary as coach if they gain entry into the NRL with the Perth expansion bid. Ivan played for the Bears in 1994 and 1995.

“The thing you would hope for is a coach with a rich history with the club," North Sydney chair Daniel Dickson said recently. “And Ivan has that.”

Ivan and Nathan Cleary after the NRL grand final in 2022. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Ivan and Nathan Cleary after the NRL grand final in 2022. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher admitted the club wouldn't want to see Nathan or Ivan leave. “It’s our intention to have some discussions in the near future,” Fletcher told the Daily Telegraph. “They’re here until ’27, but we’d like to make them both lifetime Panthers – coach and player.

“They are obvious targets for any new franchise. They’ve been such an integral part of our success. With our pathways we’re hopefully set up for the long term, but you still want and need the best coach and best player leading us.”

George Mimis, who acts as Nathan’s agent and previously advised Ivan as well, said: “There’s no risk for Penrith in signing them both long-term. They’re a beautiful family, they’re loyal, and they genuinely love Penrith, the region and the community. We’d definitely be open to having a discussion. They’ve developed that great culture, so why would they want to look elsewhere?”

Ivan and Nathan Cleary have led the Panthers to four-straight grand final appearances, culminating in three premierships in the last three years. The Panthers have built one of the NRL's most successful dynasties in rugby league history, and there's no reason why it can't continue.

Many predicted the Panthers to suffer a decline in 2024 due to the number of players they've lost to rival clubs due to the salary cap. But they were still sitting in second spot on the NRL ladder heading into Round 17, and have been winning without gun halfback Cleary for weeks.

The 26-year-old injured his hamstring in Round 2 and missed six weeks of action, but re-injured it even worse when he returned in Round 8. He hasn't played for the last eight weeks, but is targeting a return in Round 20.


The superstar No.7 is back running, but is still some way from training with the main group and yet to hit full speed in his rehabilitation. The Panthers host North Queensland on Sunday before facing Brisbane in Round 18, before a well-timed bye in Round 19.

Ivan confirmed last week that his son would not return before that bye, with the most likely comeback date being against the Dolphins at BlueBet Stadium in Round 20 on July 21. It means Nathan won't be available for NSW in State of Origin 3, although Mitchell Moses' performance in Game 2 might have made it hard for Cleary to get back in anyway.

"We're hopeful of (him returning) after our next bye," Ivan Cleary said. "That was a fairly loose target, it hasn't been confirmed. He is steadily going through his rehab, going well ... he's running, but he is a fair bit off hitting top speed and doing everything with the team."

with AAP