AAP Rugby

Tigers win fails to defuse Cleary tension

By AAP Newswire

Not even a memorable win that gave Wests Tigers' finals hopes a major boost could defuse the tension surrounding coach Ivan Cleary.

In a dramatic week where Cleary was linked with a controversial return to his former club Penrith to unite with son Nathan, the Tigers defeated Canberra to close within a game of the top-eight.

The 47-year-old read a prepared statement on Saturday where he confirmed he "intends" to honour the final two years of his contract with the Tigers.

But just as he did leading into the match at GIO Stadium, Cleary refused to be drawn into the matter after the 22-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday.

When asked about the differing reports that had been floated this week following the Panthers' shock sacking of Anthony Griffin, he quickly shut down any talk.

"I'm sure you can find the misinformation. I said my position yesterday and I'm not going to talk about it," Cleary said.

But he said the speculation surrounding him had no impact on his preparation for the match and didn't think it did on the players, either.

"Look, you'd have to ask the boys but all I can say is I never once saw them anything other than completely focused on their preparation," Cleary said.

"It was a long week. We had quite a few training sessions which at this time of year can be difficult, but they were really good throughout the week and I thought it showed the way they played."

Cleary has made it clear his desire to work with Nathan at some stage during their careers.

Nathan has one more year to serve on his deal at the Panthers but is free to field offers at the end of this season, paving the way to link with his dad at the Tigers in 2020.