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Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary.

Ivan Cleary says "unfinished business" was behind his decision to return to Penrith after securing a release from the remaining two years of his contract with Wests Tigers.

The Panthers confirmed Cleary had signed a five-year deal with the club and would take charge when players commence pre-season training on November 12.

Cameron Ciraldo, who took over the job in a caretaker capacity after Anthony Griffin was sacked a month out from the finals, will work as an assistant to Cleary, along with former Penrith captain Peter Wallace.

Cleary had previously coached the Panthers from 2012 but was sacked at the end of the 2015 season.

His return enables him to fulfil an ambition of coaching son Nathan, the NSW Origin halfback, who made his NRL debut after Cleary's departure.

"I am honoured to be back as head coach of Panthers and very much look forward to being part of the future journey," Cleary said in a statement.

"Personally, I had a feeling of unfinished business with a club and a community that my family and I enjoy a strong connection with, from grassroots through to NRL players, staff and management.

"We have raised our family in the community for a number of years and are proud to call it home."

After sitting out the 2016 season, the 47-year-old took over the Wests Tigers job early last year and had been contracted for a further two seasons.

Nathan and Ivan Cleary.
Nathan and Ivan Cleary. ©NRL Photos

However, the Tigers agreed last Friday to allow Cleary to return immediately to the Panthers after securing the services of 2014 South Sydney premiership mentor.

"I am very fond of Wests Tigers and all its people," Cleary said.

"I enjoyed my time there and it is a club heading in the right direction. I would like to thank Justin Pascoe and Marina Go for their professionalism throughout."

Panthers Group CEO Brian Fletcher said officials were confident Cleary would help the team achieve its full potential on and off the field.

"The Panthers board is delighted with the appointment of Ivan Cleary as head coach for the next five years," Fletcher said.

"The talent and depth in our playing squad means our club is well-placed to push for a premiership and we believe Ivan is the coach to take us there.

"Our players and staff have always maintained immense respect for Ivan, which speaks volumes about the quality of his character.

"It is with a renewed sense of excitement that we look forward to the 2019 NRL season and beyond."

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