Wests Tigers NRL coach Ivan Cleary has been linked to Penrith. Picture: Getty
Wests Tigers NRL coach Ivan Cleary has been linked to Penrith. Picture: Getty

Cleary won’t guarantee 2019 Tigers gig

WESTS Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has once again failed to guarantee he will be at the club next season, following his side's final-round NRL thumping at the hands of South Sydney.

Speculation about Cleary, and about whether he is on or off the bus, would seen set to rage well into the summer after he declined to put the issue to bed on Thursday night.

He has been heavily linked to the Penrith job, following the sacking of Anthony Griffin, which would allow him to link up with his son Nathan.

After the issue flared in August, Ivan Cleary made a statement in which he did not unequivocally say whether he would remain at Concord. He has refused all questions on the topic and repeatedly stated he has a contract with the joint venture for a further two seasons.

However, some have pointed out that contracts are regularly broken in rugby league and it doesn't guarantee he will continue to coach the club in 2019.

He has also in the past railed against "misinformation" in the reporting of the matter, and on Thursday night once again declined the offer to set the record straight.

"I've said what I've said about that. I'm under contract here, I've said all I need to say. I get people want to discuss it," Cleary said.

"I get there's an agenda about various things outside the game. But I think I've made my position clear."

The Tigers will finish the year in ninth. Cleary said that was appropriate considering their form.

They excelled in matches in which they were underdogs - for example in wins against Melbourne, the Sydney Roosters, South Sydney and St George Illawarra - but wilted when the pressure and limelight was on them.

"When we started the year our biggest intention was to build a foundation for the future," Cleary said when asked how he would assess their 2018.

"We started the year with some tight, hard wins against fancy teams. But there was a bit of a pattern throughout our year where we were good as underdogs and find our way into a scrap.

"That's what we became - scrappers.

"Defensively we made some real strides this year, our club has never been known as a defensive club. History shows that you have to be strong defensively. "

"Twelves wins, which I think is the most wins we've had since 2011, so obviously we're not there."