For possibly the last time in 2018, Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary says he's not going anywhere and intends coaching his team again next year.
The Tigers had a disappointing end to their club season with a 51-10 loss to a rampaging South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.
That kind of scoreline might lead anyone to ponder their future in the Telstra Premiership but Cleary was clear in his stance was asked post-match if he still intends to be at Concord Oval next year.
"I have a contract here and I've said all that I've needed to say," Cleary said.
"I get [that] people want to discuss it. I get that there's an agenda about various things outside the game," he said, referring to the quick movements of coaches in the latter stages of 2018 – Anthony Griffin is gone from the Penrith Panthers, Trent Barrett has resigned from Manly, and the fluctuations around Wayne Bennett's tenure at the Brisbane Broncos are ongoing.
Cleary was linked to the Panthers because his son Nathan is contracted there until the end of next season. That also means the 20-year-old can talk to other clubs from November 1 this year.
"I think I've made my position clear," Cleary said.
He was asked again if he wanted to clear up any of what he claimed was "misinformation" about his coaching intentions and the future career of his son, now that the Tigers season was over.
"No I don't because there's been so many different stories written, so obviously there's been misinformation," he said.
"I'm pretty clear I was disappointed and why wouldn't you be? As I said, I made my peace on that."
He doesn't know if it will re-surface again once Nathan Cleary can open discussions with another clubs. Ivan is contracted to the Tigers until the end of 2020 and the pair want to be at the same club at some time in their futures.
"I don't know. That's speculation and I can't deal in that. I just deal with what I've got in front of me and that's what I do," Cleary said.
Right now he has a team which finished 14th last year but rose to ninth this season. But he admits there is a way to go although defensively the Tigers in 2018 were far superior than previous seasons.
"We started the year to build a foundation for the future and at first we got some good, hard wins over fancied teams," Cleary said. "... but we became scrappers throughout the year. Defensively I thought we made some real strides in that area. We got 12 wins – the most since 2011 – but obviously we're not there yet," he said.
However, the football lesson Souths handed out showed the Tigers why they finished a couple of wins short of the finals.
"We made 200 more tackles and to their credit, they were ruthless tonight. They played really well and looked like a team on a mission," Cleary said.
"I felt we started the game with plenty of intent, but in the end, you could see who was marching on and who wasn't."