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They're self-confessed polar opposites but Panthers halves Tyrone May and Nathan Cleary have an undeniable chemistry on the field and are set to leave nothing in the tank against the Broncos on Friday night. 

May has been one of the stories of the season at the foot of the mountains with the Panthers' development system in full swing under the guidance of coach Anthony Griffin. 

The inexperienced halves pairing have come through the junior system together since Cleary moved back to Australia in 2012 with dad Ivan, and May recalled his early impressions of the playmaker. 

"I knew Ivan had a son coming through and when I first met him I thought he looked a bit like him and he was quiet," May told

"He took my spot in the end. He was playing five-eighth where I wanted to play and I think that was the reason I got pushed to fullback.

"I know he doesn't like being under that title and everyone is realising now that he's Nathan Cleary and not only Ivan's son."

‌Speaking to, Cleary admitted he had a different perception when first meeting May and he was far from impressed with the Minchinbury junior.

"I didn't like him to be honest," Cleary said with a smile.

"He was a loud-mouth smartarse. 

"But once I started to play with him I grew to like him a lot more. I've got the more mature head but we get on well."

When told of Cleary's tongue-in-cheek comments, May agreed he can be a difficult person to be around at times, but believes that - in a quote only the hopeless romantics would appreciate - opposites do attract.

"That is the old saying," May grinned.

"We have opposite personalities. He keeps to himself to stay calm where as I joke and am a larrikin.

"And yeah, I'd believe that he didn't like me at first. But he had to put up with me because I was in most of his teams whether he had a choice or not."

The young pair has faced no greater challenge than a Friday night elimination semi-final with a State of Origin-like atmosphere at Suncorp Stadium.

Apart from attending big-game sporting events, May has never experienced anything like the prospect of playing in front of 52,000 people.

"I haven't really got nervous this year, probably on the weekend [against Manly] I was, but this prospect hasn't hit me yet," May said.

"But I am preparing for some nerves when we start heading up to Brisbane in front of a packed house. I've never experienced anything like that so I'm going to try and prepare mentally for that.

"He (Cleary) steers the ship and I just play off him. It's good to have someone as cool and calm."

Former Junior Kangaroo May will line up opposite Anthony Milford for the contest, and with a Samoan background of his own, is keen for the battle against his fellow countryman. 

"I remember playing in Harold Matthews at Penrith and he was doing ridiculous things in SG Ball for Canberra," May said of Milford. 

"To see him come through the 20s and then first grade without stopping and staying at the same pace is crazy.

"He is one of a few we have to contain. I'll look at what I can still do to improve individually and with my unit on the left edge."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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