Cleary confronted Klein at halftime. Picture by Brett Costello.
Cleary confronted Klein at halftime. Picture by Brett Costello.

Cleary cleared! Coach escapes punishment for ref blast

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has escaped with a warning after confronting NRL referee Ashley Klein at halftime in the tunnel of Panthers Stadium last Sunday.

The NRL investigated Cleary after he tried to speak to Klein following a heated first half of the Panthers' 30-18 loss to Canberra.

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Cleary confronted Klein at halftime. Picture by Brett Costello.
Cleary confronted Klein at halftime. Picture by Brett Costello.

An NRL spokesperson confirmed the NRL would not be issuing a breach notice under the circumstances.

"There were a number of conflicting versions about the events in question," the spokesperson said.

"There were no complaints from the Match Officials. Additionally, neither referee was aware of any comments directed at them by Ivan Cleary.

Cleary was fired up after the first half. Picture by Brett Costello/
Cleary was fired up after the first half. Picture by Brett Costello/

"It is however a timely reminder that coaches should not place themselves in a position where they might be perceived to be approaching referees during matches."

The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday revealed what Cleary said to Klein after the whistleblower was involved in a running battle with five-eighth James Maloney for the opening 40 minutes.

"Ashley they're f...ing lying all over us," Cleary is believed to have said.

"You can't let them. You've got to stop them."