Penrith Panthers won't be toning down the wild NRL celebrations in 2023
After copping heavy criticism for wild NRL celebrations last season, Nathan Cleary and the Penrith Panthers don't plan on changing their ways.
For those of you who have a problem with Penrith players going over the top and bigging up celebrations – on and off the field - we've got some bad news. It ain't about to stop anytime soon.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has no plans to reel in the exuberant behaviour despite the likes of Jarome Luai, Brian To'o and James Fisher-Harris attracting heavy criticism for "lacking class" during post-grand final celebrations last year. In fact, the Penrith boss will continue to encourage his players to express themselves as his team looks to become the first in 40 years to claim a hat-trick of premierships.
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"They're all very proud of their community and we like to encourage the boys to be themselves," Cleary told Triple M. "As long as they've all got the team values and the vision and are all on the same path, we think it's important for them to be themselves and enjoy what they're doing.
"That's what they do. I think the kids and the people in our community that follow them, enjoy what they do and feel proud of what they do. I guess that's the main thing really."
Penrith will start hot favourites to win the 2023 title despite losing grand final stars Api Koroisau (Wests Tigers) and Viliame Kikau (Canterbury) to opposition clubs over the summer. Cleary couldn't be happier with Penrith's pre-season preparation, which will ramp up with next week's World Club Challenge against St Helens at BlueBet Stadium.
Nathan Cleary having best NRL pre-season in years: Ivan Cleary
And in an ominous warning for rivals hoping to end the Panthers' dominance, Cleary declared his son and star half-back Nathan Cleary's pre-season the been the best in several years.
"He spent some time over in Europe (after the World Cup) and found a really good balance between letting his hair down and having a real good break and also getting himself ready to come back to training," Ivan said. He came back in the best shape he's been in for probably three years.
"He carries a lot of expectation and a bit of pressure in what he does, but I think he's sort of used to that now. He's really determined to have another good season and keep improving."
The Panthers will field a near full strength side against St Helens, with the club's international stars all returning to training ahead of schedule to ensure they take part.
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