Former rugby league player and coach, Ivan Cleary played as a fullback and centre in the 1990s and 2000s and is now the head coach of the Penrith Panthers in the NRL.
RAISED IN Dee Why, on Sydney’s northern beaches, Cleary surfed and played schoolboy soccer. But once he realised, later in high school, that he had ability as a rugby league player, he pursued the prospect relentlessly.
A slight but able footballer, Cleary established himself at fullback with Manly’s nearest, but less glamorous, neighbours North Sydney, then went on to the Roosters, based in eastern Sydney. He broke plenty of goalkicking records and rarely missed a first grade game, but never played at representative level.
As a player, Cleary was a goal-kicking fullback who played club football in Australia and New Zealand, setting a new record for most points scored in a season during the 1998 NRL Premiership.