'Really poor form': Tigers slam Penrith over Cleary pursuit

The Wests Tigers have hit out at the Penrith Panthers – accusing their NRL rivals of an unethical “approach” on coach Ivan Cleary.

Tigers chair Marina Go says the Panthers were out of order trying to sign Cleary while he was in the middle of a lengthy contract with them.

“It’s really poor form that they have approached our coach when he has two years left on his contract,” she said on Fox Sports’ League Life program on Wednesday night.

Despite Cleary being expected to seek a release from his Tigers contract and link with the Panthers next season, three years after being sacked from the club, Go said it was business as usual for the Tigers.

The Tigers are determined not to let Cleary leave as a replacement for Griffin (R). Pic: Getty

The drama follows Monday’s shock sacking of Penrith coach Anthony Griffin, who on Wednesday night lifted the lid on his axing and the relationship breakdown with Penrith supremo, Phil Gould.

Go said she missed a call from Panthers general manager Phil Gould on Wednesday morning but she was not in a hurry to return it.

“I don’t know what he wants to say … he wants to speak to me, I have no reason to speak to him,” she said.

Go said the Tigers were not “looking for sympathy” and only wanted what they were legally entitled to.

“We value (Cleary), he’s a fantastic coach, he’s done such great things with our club,” Go said.

“The players love him … we want to retain that, and we have every reason to, and every right to.”

Go said she spoke to Cleary on Monday night, and the coach confirmed to her in that conversation that he had been “approached” by another club.

She said she came out of that conversation “feeling positive” and that nothing had changed since then.

The club has been steadfast in its position that it would not let Cleary walk out on his contract.

“Ivan has not asked for a release,” Go said.

“Even if he were seeking a release, we wouldn’t grant him a release. That position hasn’t changed.”