Penrith legend Ryan Girdler has admitted he made a mistake in questioning the pay packets of father-son duo Nathan and Ivan Cleary after the Panthers sealed a preliminary final.
Girdler was heavily critical of the Panthers’ decision to pay overs for Ivan to come back and coach his son, who also wasn’t earning his hefty salary last season.
However in a refreshing admission The Sydney Morning Herald reported Girdler was happy to eat his words as the Panthers sit two wins away from premiership glory.
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“Credit where credit is due,” Girdler told the Herald.
“I didn’t see this coming this year. Seriously, who could have seen this coming. Last year I just wasn’t impressed with the way they went about the whole business attracting Ivan away after what he’d done at the Wests Tigers.
“All of that, getting him back just for Nathan. They were paying him and Nathan $2 million a year to perform the way that they were and I thought they just dug themselves into a hole. At the time, it didn’t seem like they had too much of a plan. At the time, I felt like it was pretty right. You know what? I was wrong.
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“I just rang Dave and said, ‘Congratulations, I got it wrong last year’. Sometimes you have to wear some humble pie, but I don’t really care. I just want the club to be doing well.
“I care about that joint and I’m over the moon for them and whole community out there because I know what they go through.
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“I couldn’t see a way out for them at the time. But they’ve turned it all around.”
Girdler was critical of the Panthers for letting Phil Gould leave and putting all their faith in the Cleary’s to turn the club around.
“I think you have to talk about the senior administration. I think it’s an absolute mess,” Girdler said on Triple M last year.
“I think they made decisions based on fear — fear of possibly losing a young player … I think they overpaid, I think they overpaid the halfback and they overpaid the coach based on fear.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary with his son Nathan Cleary.Source:News Corp Australia
“To alienate a guy like Phil Gould, and everyone’s got their own opinion of Gus, but to have a great footy mind like that involved in your club and to have administration going away and making decisions basically knowing that that’s going to force Gus’s hand into a redundancy, I think it’s basic stupidity.”
However the Cleary’s will have the last laugh if they hoist the trophy together on October 25 and no one will be more happy than Girdler who was a member of their last premiership triumph in 2003.
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Originally published asPanthers great admits he ‘got it wrong’ on ‘overpaid’ Cleary’s
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