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Cleary eagerly awaiting Barrett's attacking nous at Panthers

Nine tries in their final game of the 2019 Telstra Premiership season would suggest there's little wrong with the Panthers attack, but coach Ivan Cleary is eagerly awaiting Trent Barrett's arrival to up the ante.

Barrett resigned from the Sea Eagles in July last year and has been on the NRL coaching outer ever since.

In August, Cleary appointed him one of his assistants for 2020, which allows Barrett to return to the club where he once handled the under 20s. He also coached Country Origin at that time.

"Trent's responsibility will be around attack. So that's exciting," Cleary said on Sunday after his side overwhelmed the Knights 54-10 in the final club game of 2019 for both sides.

"Trent is obviously a very good coach and he's very motivated, being out for a bit, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can bring to our team.

"Obviously with our young spine members he'll be a great mentor for those guys as well."

 Along with a handsome 44-point win, scrolling down the list of Panthers players on Sunday, 10 were aged 25 or younger.

Match Highlights: Panthers v Knights

"We're a development club. We debuted nine guys this year. It's definitely a season of regeneration I guess," Cleary said.

"The future is to try and pick the young guys that are going to be the ones that end up steering the ship for a long time yet.

"There are some good signs there. We've had some really good guys coming through."

One of those is 21-year-old son Nathan, who racked up a personal tally of 34 points against the Knights – four tries and nine from nine conversions as he sliced in, around and through defenders.

"It's not his running game that's holding him back. He's still learning how to ball-play and slow the game down. The game is still fast for him, which at 21 is pretty normal," the coach said.

"That's where he's got to develop and you can't speed up time."

Nathan diverted praise on himself after he eclipsed Michael Gordon's scoring record for a single game – 30 points against South Sydney in round 24, 2010.

"I'm just happy we got a win … ultimately that was the goal. [The record] just kind of tops things off," Nathan said.

"I was just in the right place at the right time and lucky enough to kick a few goals."

As for the Panthers' 2019 season, where they finished in 10th place with 11 wins from 24 games but only one victory outside the eight, Nathan was determined to do better in 2020.

Make that four tries for Cleary

"It was pretty disappointing for me. I set myself some pretty high standards and I don't think I met them this year and that reflected on the team," he said, even though he was part of a winning NSW Origin side.

"It was a pretty turbulent, up and down year, and my form kind of reflected that as well.

"I have to rip in this pre-season and turn it around."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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