NSW Origin halfback Nathan Cleary should be dropped to reserve grade at Penrith, NRL legend Gorden Tallis says.
Yet in a damning spray, Tallis said that would never happen due to the fact that Cleary is coached at the Panthers by his father, Ivan.
Tallis said that Ivan Cleary should have never agreed to coach his son, a decision that has placed both of them under enormous pressure after a dismal start to the season for Penrith. The Panthers are now dead last in the NRL with a 2-8 record, having started the season as supposed premiership contenders.
Nathan Cleary is fighting to save his Blues jersey but on current form, he is tipped to be overlooked despite NSW coach Brad Fittler’s desire for loyalty and continuity.
It has been estimated that long-term deals for Nathan and Ivan Cleary represent a $10 million investment for Penrith, with the club’s board now under glaring scrutiny over the contracts.
“Dare I say it, I think his son needs a bit of time down in reserve grade to get his confidence back,” Tallis said on Triple M NRL.
"But you can’t do it. Because Nathan Cleary and Ivan are under so much pressure now. That’s what Ivan put his son under.
"Ivan’s the adult. He should never have gone there. He was coaching, he was getting money, he didn’t need to coach there.
"He could coach his son at home. My sons go and play sport, I can coach them. You can coach them at home, you can give them pointers, you can give them tips.
"Matty Johns coaches halves, Kevvy [Walters] is helping halves. They all go help halves without sitting there in the coach’s box. There’s been so many players that have been helped by so many ex-players and old coaches in the past.
“I watched Wayne Bennett do it with Ben Hunt [drop him to reserve grade]. Sometimes just going away, playing in park footy, finding the love for the game again, just going back, stripping it all back [helps].”
Tallis also blasted Penrith for its plan to release James Maloney to the Super League after this year.
Maloney has been a key Panthers player and a mentor for Cleary, his incumbent NSW halves partner, though the veteran five-eighth has also endured a miserable start to the season.
It is believed that Penrith signed Maloney, 32, to a three-year contract with the expectation that he might be released for a career-ending deal in England after this season; his second at the club.
“Are they seriously trying to get rid of their best player in James Maloney?” Tallis said.