AAP Rugby

Lang sees Cleary NRL skies for Penrith

By AAP Newswire

The last player to spend most of their career under their father at a NRL club can see only benefits ahead for Ivan and Nathan Cleary at Penrith.

The Cleary era will begin on Monday for the Panthers with Ivan's first day back in charge, while Nathan will remain in the rehab group after ankle surgery.

Regardless, Monday's first official day back will mark a significant date, years in the making, given the public desire of both Clearys to work with each other since Nathan's debut in 2016.

In doing so, they will become just the second father-son combination of the past decade, and the first to do it long term since Martin and John Lang at Cronulla and then Penrith from 1996-2004.

Historically, father-son combinations have struggled to work across a number of sports in Australia, but Martin can't see this pair having issues.

"He would give Nathan advice on his game anyway, even when he wasn't coaching him. But now, it's just his job," Lang told AAP.

"(Ivan) would know (Nathan)'s game well. His game is a lot more complex than mine was (when John coached me). But he knew what motivated me and my psyche.

"Everyone will have their judgment on whether his coaching will be detrimental or good for Nathan's game. I think, personally, it will be good."

The Clearys' combination at Penrith is unique to several others in that Nathan is already an established No.7 with winning State of Origin experience for NSW.

In comparison, most others that have failed across other sports have included senior players being dropped for coaches' sons to be picked, usually bringing accusations of bias.

Even Lang admitted he was subject to such scrutiny from outsiders as a youngster, despite later going on to play Origin for Queensland.

Others, including Andrew Johns, have questioned how Ivan's appointment might impact on Nathan's relationship with players - particularly if teammates are unhappy with their coach or vice versa.

But Lang said he'd rarely experienced such issues.

"You would think these days his teammates would be respectful enough. If they are going to bag the coach, they wouldn't do it in front of Nathan," Lang said.

"That's just respect, isn't it? In any form of life, you don't go around doing that.

"And I certainly don't think the coach would stoop to that level either."

Penrith return to work on Monday along with South Sydney and Cronulla , but emerge as one of the most under-pressure teams in the competition after CEO Brian Fletcher's demand for a premiership in Ivan's five-year stay.

"The pressure is more on Ivan (than Nathan)," Lang said.

"But he's a proven coach ... he's coached a team to the grand final in the past, so he certainly can win a premiership."