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NRL investigates Cleary over half-time ref approach

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary may yet be handed a breach notice as the NRL intends to conclude its investigation into his half-time approach to match officials by Tuesday.

Cleary confirmed that he spoke towards lead referee Ashley Klein as he headed up the tunnel in Penrith's 12-point loss to Canberra on Sunday, but insisted "it wasn't anything untoward" afterwards.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has asked referees boss Bernard Sutton to investigate the incident, with information still being gathered from match-day officials on Monday afternoon.

NRL rules prohibit coaches from making any approach toward on-field officials during half-time.

Should the NRL determine Cleary has a case to answer, the Integrity Unit could hand down a warning fine or suspended punishment over the incident.

Get Caught Up: Round 19

"We're still seeking some more information," Annesley said at his weekly football briefing on Monday.

"There seems to have been a fair amount of discussion going on in the tunnel as the players left the field with the referees so we haven't put a line under that one yet.

"I think it's probably an opportune time to say to all clubs that approaching officials — and I think Ivan by his own admission said that he did try to speak to the referee — under the NRL rules approaching officials at half-time is not permitted.

"To the extent that there's a serious breach of the rules in this case, that hasn't been determined."

Graham Annesley weekly football briefing - Round 19

It's believed Klein did not hear Cleary's remark towards him as he was in deep conversation with Penrith's captain James Tamou.

"I actually went and spoke to our captain Jimmy Tamou to get him to talk, which he did," Cleary said.

"I might've spoken to them possibly, yeah, you can ask them. It wasn't anything untoward. I wanted to clarify something, it happens every week you want to get some clarification around certain things."

Veteran playmaker James Maloney was seen in heated conversations with Klein throughout the first half leading into the coach's half-time approach but Cleary insisted it was nothing out of the ordinary. 

"I don't know, it was no more than any other game," Cleary said. 

"I'm not sure what you're getting at. Like I said, honestly that's like most other games like us this year. 

"I can't sit here when we've lost and have a whinge about it. There are line-ball calls and your captain goes and asks something. 

"I'm sure if you ask the refs they say the same thing."

Penrith's purple patch of form to get them back in the finals equation hit a hurdle in their 30-18 defeat.

They next face Canterbury and former Panther Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on Saturday night in the Kiwi's first clash with his junior club.

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