David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Cleary hopes Warriors stand by McFadden

Former Penrith and Warriors mentor Ivan Cleary hopes the Warriors stand by besieged coach Andrew McFadden but is eager to re-enter the NRL coaching ranks and won't rule out making a return to New Zealand.

Cleary, who represented the Warriors as both a player (2000-2002) and coach (2006-2011), is currently in Queenstown, as a member of the four-man Australian team competing against New Zealand in the transtasman Celebrity Challenge golf event at the New Zealand Open golf tournament.

The 45-year-old former goal-kicking fullback was sacked from his role as coach of the Penrith Panthers last October, but is waiting for a NRL coaching vacancy to present itself and would happily return to New Zealand.

"I'd definitely like to get back into coaching," said Cleary.

"Firstly, I should clarify; I hope the Warriors are backing Andrew. And from all reports it looks like they are so that's a good thing.

"Me personally, I've loved my time in New Zealand, I always love coming back and I really enjoyed my time at the Warriors, so we'll see what happens."

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Cleary's name has been continually raised as a potential replacement for McFadden or under-pressure Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor, but is currently enjoying a break from the game.

He parted ways with the Warriors in acrimonious circumstances following their 2011 grand final appearance, and his shock departure from Penrith reiterated the uncertain nature of coaching in the NRL.

However, he remains confident he has much to contribute to a football club and is determined to further his career.

"It's a bit hard to put a timeframe on it, I'm just waiting around to see if an opportunity comes up but in the meantime I've got a little opportunity to up-skill myself and spend some time away and sit back and look at the game from a different angle.

"I've got 10 years under my belt. I started pretty young so I feel like I've done the hard yards and done the apprenticeship so to speak, so I'm looking forward to getting another opportunity.

"There's going to be some disappointed management in the clubs and coaches are under pressure, that's the nature of the business.

"Its hard to get clubs with a long-term view and results are paramount."

Despite his ambitions, he has sympathy for McFadden, who is under immense pressure to get the highly-fancied Warriors firing in Friday's clash against the Broncos in Brisbane after losing last weekend's opening round encounter against Wests Tigers in Sydney.

Cleary was not surprised his former team struggled in high temperatures during the first half at Campbelltown Stadium and said the Warriors always found away games difficult to navigate throughout the first few rounds.

"For the Warriors, that game was always going to be a tough game," he said.

"There were really hot conditions in Sydney and historically the Warriors have always struggled then.

"I certainly know from my own time here that those early games, especially day games, in Sydney, are very, very tough.

"But I know everyone's obviously keen to make assumptions and make judgements early, but you'll know more in about six weeks time, about how the sides are going and then after that it's a long year."

Meanwhile, Cleary was surprised by comments earlier this week from former Kiwis coach Graham Lowe, who said the Warriors had a pervasive "bro culture" at Mt Smart.

"When I first came to the club as a player back in 1999 the culture was certainly different to what I'd experienced in Sydney clubs, but certainly not in a negative way.

"And as a player and a coach the culture is different but I didn't see any drama with it.

"But I'm not around so I don't really know. Graham's obviously a highly respected man in the game but I don't know how close he is to the Warriors either."

- NZ Herald

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