Ivan Cleary to fight huge fine after 'deplorable' referee comment

Australian Associated Press
·2-min read
NRL chairman Peter V'Landys (pictured left) during a media conference and Penrith coach Ivan Cleary (pictured right) during a game.
NRL chairman Peter V'Landys (pictured left) blasted Penrith coach Ivan Cleary (pictured right) for his comments regarding the referees on the weekend. (Getty Images)

Ivan Cleary claims he did not intend to question the integrity of referees after the Penrith coach was whacked with a $20,000 fine by the NRL on Monday.

Cleary is facing the hefty fine after the NRL served him with a breach notice for saying Canberra were "managed" back into Saturday's game by officials when several second-half calls went in the Raiders' favour.

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The Panthers held on to win 28-12, but Cleary's post-match comments were labelled "deplorable" by ARL Commission chairman Peter V'Landys.

"I think his comments were deplorable," V'landys told AAP.

"There has to be a financial deterrent for it. You can't question people's integrity, no matter what.

"What he did yesterday is one of the most disappointing things I have seen while chairman.”

On Monday afternoon Cleary released a statement defending his intent behind the comments.

"I will be submitting a formal response to the NRL breach notice I was issued earlier today," he said.

"While that process runs its course, I wish to clarify it was never my intention to question the integrity of the referees."

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Earlier, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said he had a long conversation with Cleary before the breach notice was issued.

"I am disappointed that a person in a leadership position within our game has made comments that question the integrity of our officials," he said.

"Our leaders should be professional and set the standard for our game.

"Comments like this will not be tolerated."

It comes as NRL head of football Graham Annesley backed each controversial decision made by referees in the match, saying he was happy the right calls were made.

"We've demonstrated that where there's absolutely no doubt an error has been made we're prepared to put our hand up on that and we'll continue to do it, but where it can be argued the referees have made the right decision, we'll continue to support them," he said.