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Penrith Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould hailed Nathan Cleary as the best signing he's made after announcing on Tuesday that the young half will commit his future to Penrith until the end of 2024.

During Gould's time at the Panthers he's played roles in signing the likes of Peter Wallace, Trent Merrin, James Maloney and James Tamou. He rates Cleary's signature the biggest of them all.

"It's the biggest contract that I've ever signed, and he thoroughly deserves it," Gould said.

"To do what he's done at this age and under the pressure that he's done it is just extraordinary. It's a significant investment by the Panthers."

Gould said re-signing Cleary was vital for the club's future and hopes that the young star doesn't just remain at the club until 2024.

"I think there had to be long-term commitment here to protect Panthers and to protect Nathan's future as well," Gould said.

"We see his best football way in front of him, he's still only 20 years of age – he's already taken us to three semi-finals series at the age of 18, 19 and 20, which is just extraordinary and we know he has such a bright future in the game and we want to be a part of that.

"I think Nathan is going to be a 300-game plus NRL player and I'd like to see him play his whole career here - this is a significant step in that direction and we're delighted to have him."

Cleary - who has been at the Panthers since he was 14 - said it never crossed his mind to venture anywhere else.

"I'm really happy we've come to this result," Cleary said.

"I didn't have any other offers because I didn't wait until November 1, I was pretty happy with this one and I didn't want to look anywhere else.

"Throughout the year I had the feeling that I never wanted to leave and then the back end of the year I was 100 percent that I wanted to stay.

"I was lucky enough that the contract was pretty much done once we finished playing."

The 20-year-old said he hopes at some point in the future his father Ivan will join him at the club.

"I haven't given up on it [being coach by his dad], it would obviously be nice to link with him somewhere down the track," Cleary said.

"But I said throughout the year that it had to be the right place and the right time and it isn't meant to be at the moment but in an ideal world he'll come out here someday but that's just a dream at the moment."

 

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