Nathan Cleary

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Nathan Cleary
Nathan Cleary.jpg
Personal information
Born 14 November 1997
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Height 182 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 92 kg (14 st 7 lb)
Playing information
Position Halfback

Years Team Pld T G FG P
2016– Penrith Panthers 56 18 181 2 436
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2017 City NSW 1 0 0 0 0
2018 New South Wales 3 0 2 0 4
As of 28 July 2018
Source: [1]

Nathan Cleary (born 14 November 1997) is a professional Australian rugby league footballer who plays for the Penrith Panthers in the National Rugby League. A New South Wales State of Origin and City Origin representative, Cleary plays as a halfback. Cleary is the son of Wests Tigers coach and former rugby league footballer Ivan Cleary.


Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Cleary spent a number of his childhood years living in Auckland, New Zealand while his father was playing for, and later coaching, the New Zealand Warriors. Having grown up playing soccer, Cleary switched to rugby league during his pre-teens, playing at a junior level for the Mount Albert Lions in Auckland and the Penrith Brothers in Sydney.[2][3] He completed his HSC while attending St Dominic's College, Penrith in 2015, where he was a prefect.[4]

Cleary is of Croatian descent.[5][6] He is the nephew of Josh Stuart and Jason Death.[7]

Playing career[edit]

Cleary playing for the Windsor Wolves

Early career[edit]

Cleary progressed through the Panthers' junior system, playing in their Harold Matthews Cup (under 16)[8] and S. G. Ball Cup (under 18) teams, the latter of which he captained in 2015. Cleary appeared for the Windsor Wolves in the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield in a handful of games,[9][10] before being called into Penrith's National Youth Competition (under 20) squad mid-season.[4] Cleary was unavailable to play in the Panthers' 2015 NYC Grand Final winning team due to his selection in the Australian Schoolboys team,[11] whom he captained during their two match series against New Zealand under-18s.[12]


Starting the season as Penrith's first-choice halfback in the NYC, Cleary was selected to play for the Junior Kangaroos against the Junior Kiwis in May, where he played at five-eighth scoring a try and kicking 5 goals in the 34-20 win.[13] He made his New South Wales Cup debut for the Panthers in round 11, the only game he'd play in that competition in 2016.[14][15] On 2 June, Cleary extended his contract with the Panthers until the end of the 2019 season;[14] his decision to do so voided a 'father-son' clause in his contract, which would have allowed him to leave the club following his father's dismissal as Penrith's head coach late the previous year, had he so pleased.[16]

Two days after the signing, in round 13, Cleary made his NRL debut for the Penrith Panthers against the Melbourne Storm at five-eighth. Despite a 6-24 defeat at AAMI Park, Cleary had a great debut; making 38 tackles.[17][18][19] The next week against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Cleary scored his first NRL try, as well as kicking 5 goals in the Panthers' 31-24 win at Brookvale Oval.[20] Following a man of the match performance against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in round 15, The Daily Telegraph said of Cleary: "[it's] hard to believe he is only 18 playing his third NRL game. Composed under pressure, kicked well and supported inside for a crucial second half try."[21]

After the departure of seasoned half Jamie Soward, and Peter Wallace shifting to hooker, Cleary remained at halfback for the rest of the season.[22] He was in the race for the rookie of the year award, but lost to the Gold Coast Titans halfback, Ashley Taylor.[23][24] He finished his debut season with 3 tries and 52 goals from 15 matches. He was the Panthers highest point-scorer with 116 points. Cleary was rewarded with being named in the emerging NSW Blues squad.[25]


Cleary was named in the Panthers squad for the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines.[26] On 1 May, Cleary was named in the NSW City Origin representative team to play in the last ever City vs Country game.[27]

Cleary finished the season as highest pointscorer in the NRL with a total of 228 points, the youngest player to achieve this since 1913. He played in all 26 games for the Panthers, scoring 11 tries and kicking 92 goals. Cleary also became the youngest player ever to score 200 points in a season.[28]


Cleary started the 2018 season as possibly the NRL’s form player before suffering a knee injury in Round 3 against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs where the Panthers lost 20-18 at ANZ Stadium.[29] While he was out with the injury, Cleary was still leading in contention for the halfback spot for New South Wales. Cleary made his return to the field in Round 11 against his father’s team the Wests Tigers, where he helped steer the Panthers to a 16-2 victory at Penrith Stadium.[30] In his next performance in Round 12 against table toppers the St George Illawarra Dragons, Cleary earned his spot in the New South Wales squad after a fine match, scoring a try as the Panthers won convincedly 28-2 at Penrith Stadium.[31] On 6 June 2018, Cleary made his debut for New South Wales in Game 1 of the 2018 State of Origin series against Queensland, starting at halfback in the 22-12 win at the MCG.[32][33] Later that week, he kicked the match winning field goal in the Panthers' 23–22 win over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium.[34] He played in all 3 Origin games that year for the Blues at halfback.

Personal life[edit]

Cleary previously held a New Zealand passport.[35]


  1. ^ "Nathan Cleary – Career Stats & Summary". Rugby League Project. 
  2. ^ Skipwith, David (30 July 2016). "Nathan Cleary a chip and chase off old block". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2018. 
  3. ^ Chammas, Michael (27 February 2017). "Penrith Panthers' Nathan Cleary only began playing rugby league six years ago". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 January 2018. 
  4. ^ a b Fahy, Patrick (2 September 2015). "Nathan Cleary making his name in rugby league". Penrith City Gazette. 
  5. ^ "Football and rugby league unite for special training session - New Zealand Football". 
  6. ^ Heming, Wayne (13 September 2017). "Penrith young gun Nathan Cleary's growing case for the title of best teen NRL player ever". The Australian. Retrieved 29 January 2018. 
  7. ^ Ritchie, Dean (29 September 2011). "Warriors coach Ivan Cleary grew up in Manly heartland". Perth Now. Retrieved 29 January 2018. 
  8. ^ Pengilly, Adam (29 July 2016). "Penrith Panthers teenager Nathan Cleary mature beyond his years". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  9. ^ Hickey, Conor (14 May 2015). "Windsor Wolves ready for round 9 clash against Mounties". Hawkesbury Gazette. Retrieved 29 January 2018. 
  10. ^ "Nathan Cleary - Windsor Wolves 2015". League Unlimited. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  11. ^ Webeck, Tony (4 October 2015). "Panthers win second Holden Cup title". Retrieved 29 January 2018. 
  12. ^ Webeck, Tony (27 September 2015). "Australian Schoolboys defeat NZ". 
  13. ^ "Nathan Cleary and Jaydn Su'a star in Junior Kangaroos win over Junior Kiwis". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 May 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "Young guns extend their deals". 2 June 2016. 
  15. ^ "Season Review | Penrith Panthers". 7 September 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2018. While young gun Nathan Cleary has been a superstar rookie in the NRL, the Intrust Super Premiership NSW side did not benefit from his services; Cleary only played in the Panthers' Round 11 win before debuting in first grade, with the relatively unique path of transitioning from the Holden Cup directly into the NRL. 
  16. ^ Chammas, Michael (26 June 2016). "Nathan Cleary opts against reactivating father-son get-out clause at Penrith Panthers". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  17. ^ Proszenko, Adrian (3 June 2016). "Penrith Panthers teen Nathan Cleary tipped to make NRL debut against Storm". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  18. ^ "Cleary taking Panthers to a new level". The Courier-Mail. 26 August 2016. 
  19. ^ "Super Cooper's brave dig leads perfect Storm". Daily Telegraph. 
  20. ^ "Penrith ice stunning comeback at Brookvale". 
  21. ^ Toohey, Barry (24 June 2016). "Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs player ratings: Who flew, who flopped?". Daily Telegraph. 
  22. ^ "Stats Insider: The evidence of Nathan Cleary's impact on the Panthers". Fox Sports. 16 September 2016. 
  23. ^ "Ash burns rivals in NRL's top rookie race". The Daily Telegraph. 28 September 2016. 
  24. ^ "Top 10 rookies of the year". 
  25. ^ "Penrith Panthers rookie Nathan Cleary picked in Emerging NSW Blues Origin squad". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 December 2016. 
  26. ^ "2017 Auckland Nines squads: Every player named for the tournament". The Roar. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  27. ^ "2017 City Origin side named". 1 May 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  28. ^ "NRL history books beckon for Penrith's Nathan Cleary". 
  29. ^ "Penrith Panthers NRL 2018: Nathan Cleary knee injury to sideline star half for extended period". Fox Sports. 24 March 2018. 
  30. ^ " - Subscribe to The Daily Telegraph for exclusive stories". 
  31. ^ "Cleary, Maloney star as Panthers outplay Dragons". 26 May 2018. 
  32. ^ "State of Origin: NSW Blues halfback Nathan Cleary goes from very nervous to match winner". 6 June 2018. 
  33. ^ "Nathan Cleary NSW Blues State of Origin debut, Brad Fittler on defence, tackles". Fox Sports. 4 June 2018. 
  34. ^ Campbell, Jye (8 June 2018). "Cool Cleary kicks Panthers to victory – Panthers". Retrieved 9 June 2018. 
  35. ^ "Blues star Nathan Cleary has revealed he almost declared his allegiance to the Kiwis". Fox Sports. 20 June 2018. Retrieved 22 June 2018. 

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