Penrith gamers this week gritted their enamel and winced when reminded about Cleary’s look in spherical seven, which noticed him subjected to ”Elephant Man” and ”Avatar” taunts.
“I bear in mind giving him some lip on Instagram – however he was nonetheless higher trying than me,” playmaker Jarome Luai mentioned.
Winger Josh Mansour mentioned: “I used to be shocked he may even see.”
Cleary himself thought he seemed OK till the TV cameras zoomed in on his face and flashed his face on the large display at Kogarah as he lined up a conversion.
“I am nonetheless attempting to overlook the best way I seemed that evening,” Cleary advised the Herald.
“I bear in mind being in hospital the day earlier than for many of the day. After I obtained to hospital they put me on antibiotics.
“With the suspension [during COVID for his TikTok video] and lacking the primary two video games, it was solely my third recreation again and I wished to maintain using the wave – you need to get as many wins as you’ll be able to early within the 12 months.
“I used to be frightened about it going into the sport, it did not look too dangerous, however then I obtained a knock on it [from Cameron Murray] and it blew up right away.
“I may see it on the large display each time they’d zoom in earlier than a kick. I used to be like, ‘far out, that is not trying too good’. Then I obtained in and noticed it after the sport.
“I have not had it since. Contact wooden I do not once more.”
Cleary had despatched his teammates a video as few hours earlier than the primary coaching session of that week so that they weren’t shocked. As an alternative of sympathy he was ridiculed.
When coach Ivan Cleary was advised on the post-match press convention he was as soon as once more the best-looking Cleary, he famously shook his head and mentioned: “No I’m not. [Nathan’s] mother is.”
Talking of Ivan, his 22-year-old son is aware of no different coach would have been in a position to extract the very best out of him.
As Souths coach Wayne Bennett was supplied as much as Penrith in 2018 earlier than the board caught with their plans to welcome again Cleary, Nathan was definitely happy with the selection.
“He is aware of me higher than anybody and notices issues different folks would not discover,” Cleary mentioned of Ivan.
“That is why I am tremendous fortunate and grateful to have such a detailed relationship with dad.
“One factor with dad is he is large on the little issues, and he drilled that into me as a child.
“We could not have gone by a lot more durable instances than the beginning of final 12 months – it was all-time low – and it was more durable than we first anticipated, however we have positively established an excellent father-son-coaching relationship now.
“The issues he does in deliver the group collectively. He isn’t the [biggest] technical coach, however he is large on constructing tradition and it is labored effectively this 12 months.
“I am very grateful for him being my coach and my dad – he desires me to be a greater footballer and a greater individual.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.