Nathan Cleary reveals secret behind early return
Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary revealed a secret diet has helped him return from a knee injury in time to take on his father's Wests Tigers and give himself a chance at a State of Origin debut next month.
NRL.com sat down with the Clearys at the family's Leonay home on Monday morning ahead of the second father-son contest of their careers.
The Penrith superstar, who had originally been given an 8-12 week recovery estimate, admitted he had been overdosing on oysters in a bid to return as early as possible.
His father isn't thrilled about him returning in time for Thursday night's mouthwatering clash at Panthers Stadium, nor the cost of his diet to help him get there in time.
"Mum and dad are tightarses and wouldn't buy them for me," Nathan told NRL.com.
"Someone sent me an article of good foods to eat while you have a ligament injury and oysters happened to be on there. I sent it straight to mum and dad.
"They were pretty disappointed to hear that. Mum's pretty good to me but dad has refused to give them to me. He wanted to push my recovery back a week. Mum brought some home the other night. Just in time to get right for this weekend.''
With those words, Ivan looks over to his son and chuckles at the notion that he didn't want his son playing against his side this weekend.
"The golden child here gets pretty much whatever he wants," Ivan said with a wry smile.
Cleary only began eating oysters on a recent family holiday to Byron Bay in the offseason.
"I didn't like them for a long time and just recently started liking them," he said.
To which Ivan replies: "Because you worked out how much they cost".
The close bond the pair share is evident.
Nathan jokes about his father not wanting him to play, but you'd be hard-pressed finding a happier person – outside of Anthony Griffin of course – about Nathan's return.
"Yeah stoked," Ivan jokes.
"When he first got injured that's the first thing [I did] when I knew it was long term - I checked the draw and it looked like we were going to get away with it.
"But all roads have been leading to this week. Obviously, I'm really happy he can come back as soon as he can, but the fact it's against us is very ironic. I was talking to Wayne Pearce the other day about how good it is to have a son playing in the NRL.
"Obviously Mitchell has played over 200 games and they still ride every game and all the stuff that goes with it. I feel very honoured. I've actually missed watching him play. Not that I'll be watching him much this Thursday."