Cleary defends Moses' release process
Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary has defended the club's decision to knock back Mitchell Moses' request for an immediate release twice before agreeing to part ways with the unhappy five-eighth on Tuesday.
With the joint venture scheduled for a flight to Brisbane for their clash with the Broncos on Friday night, Cleary wanted it known before the side flew out of Sydney that he was convinced the Eels recruit was playing well enough to stay and commit to the club until the end of the season.
After speculation the Carlingford junior has been treated unfairly since agreeing to join the blue and gold, Cleary defended the process but indicated Moses' performance against the Rabbitohs confirmed he was no longer committed to Concord.
"The last time I spoke about [Mitchell's situation] publicly was after the Bulldogs where I thought he played well," Cleary said on Wednesday.
"I mentioned that I hadn't seen anything to suggest in his performances or preparation that he wanted to leave.
"That was the thing I was going to go by… there was no benefit to our club for a release.
"I don't know if it's a coincidence but things changed after that.
"His last two performances and general demeanour suggested he just wasn't happy and the logical conclusion was for us to part ways and that's what we've done."
Cleary believes the club's commitment to players' wellbeing is first class.
"We take wellbeing very seriously at this club and the track record at the Tigers has been very strong, particularly in the last 12 months," he said.
"The accusation around poor management and wellbeing was manipulation of the media.
"I take it very seriously as a coach and believe it's a huge part of what we do.
"I've been completely transparent and forthright with my conversations with Mitchell and that's all I'll say on that because they're personal.
"It's a bit disappointing that personal conversations have ended up in the media but I certainly don't want that to happen from my end."
With only four days of preparation, Moses joined his new teammates in Parramatta on Wednesday and is expected to be a late inclusion for the Eels for their clash with Canberra on Saturday.
Cleary has been forced to recall Jack Littlejohn in Moses' absence to partner Luke Brooks in the halves, while skipper Aaron Woods is all but a confirmed starter for the clash with the Broncos on Friday night.
"He's ticked every box," Cleary said.
"Unless something happens in the next 48 hours but we're confident he will play.
"It's amazing what players and the medical staff can do these days and there have been a few recently where players are coming back quicker.
"The fact he didn't do a hamstring in a running [motion], that made it easier."
Meanwhile, Cleary said the recent signing of in-form Dragons prop Russell Packer was a sign the club was going in a new direction in 2018.
"I'm really happy with that [signing] and I've known Russell for a long time," he said.
"He's been playing really well and as a person he's developed incredibly – a great story.
"That is something that is really going to resonate with our club and players [in the future]."