‘No big deal’: NRL probe Cleary half-time tunnel referee fracas

The NRL were late on Sunday night speaking to Ashley Klein and his matchday officials as they investigated Panthers coach Ivan Cleary, who was accused of speaking to the whistleblowers in a half-time tunnel incident.

Eyewitnesses reported Cleary questioning Klein during the break of Penriths 30-18 loss on Sunday – a remark he said was “no big deal” – which could be a breach of NRL rules which prevent coaches from approaching referees during half-time.

Ivan Cleary said his encounter with officials during Sunday's match are "no big deal".

Ivan Cleary said his encounter with officials during Sunday's match are "no big deal".Credit:ninevms

Its believed Klein, who was engaged in an animated conversation with Penrith skipper James Tamou at the time, didnt hear the remark from Cleary.

But NRL head of football Graham Annesley asked referees boss Bernard Sutton to investigate in the hours after the match before clearing Cleary.


Asked whether he said something to Klein, Cleary said: “I actually went to speak to our captain Jimmy Tamou to get him to talk to the refs, which he did. I might have spoken to [Klein], possibly. You can ask them. There was nothing untoward.

“I just wanted to clarify something, which probably happens every week. Youre trying to get clarification around certain things. Its no big deal.”

James Maloney and later Tamou were involved in a lengthy discussion with lead referee Klein on the field and then into the tunnel, where eyewitnesses allege Cleary said something towards the State of Origin whistleblower.

The NRL is unlikely to take the matter further if the referees dont report the incident.

The Panthers had centre Dean Whare sin-binned for a professional foul when he impeded Jarrod Croker who was chasing an Aidan Sezer kick and were frustrated by Canberras slow-down tactics in their own red zone. Penrith ended up winning the penalty count 7-4.

Pressed on decisions which went against his team, Cleary said: “If theres line ball calls your captain goes and asks stuff. Cmon guys, its not a big deal. Read More – Source

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