Nathan and Ivan Cleary could've earned more money if they went to the open market but their love for the Penrith community and club's culture led them to re-sign on long-term deals.
Nathan Cleary is one step closer to playing out his career at the Panthers after he and his father penned new contract extensions with the premiership-winning club on Wednesday.
The pair will remain at the Panthers until at least the end of 2027 after Nathan gained a three-year upgrade on his 2024 contract while Ivan was a free agent at the end of next season but will now remain in charge for another five years.
It caps a memorable four years for the Cleary family, who reunited at the Panthers in difficult circumstances in 2019 with tensions high after Ivan's bitter departure from the Wests Tigers to coach his son.
After making his NRL debut in 2016, Nathan's new contract will take him through until he's 30, ensuring the NSW halfback will play most, if not all, of his career at the Panthers.
"It’s pretty unbelievable, it’s hard to put into words, it only hit me last night I was doing to do this," Nathan told the media on Wednesday.
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"I came here as a 14-year-old kid after following dad around. It’s home for me now. It means everything to me. To stay for longer now and be part of this community is really special.
"At the end of the day I’m getting paid to do something I love. All I ever wanted to do was play NRL and Penrith made that possible for me."
Ivan's second stint as coach at the club didn't start off very smoothly with a disastrous 2019 campaign but he's since guided the Panthers to two grand finals, a minor premiership and a breakthrough premiership win.
He passed Royce Simmons last week as the most-capped coach in Panthers history while he sits behind Ronald Willey on win percentage with an impressive 58.4%.
"I couldn't be happier, I'm really proud to lead this club and these boys," Ivan said.
"It’s hard not to think retrospectively and nostalgically in situations like this, I was just like Nathan but a bit longer ago, I could only dream of playing one NRL game,.
"Thirty years later I'm still fortunate enough to live this life. Coaching is one of those things, as a head coach it’s not one or the other. There’s definitely times you wonder why you want to do it.
"That's the beauty of it because the good times are incredible. I love sport and being involved in teams. I get to hang out with these young guys and you should all see how they express themselves.
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"It makes you feel younger, but it’s not just the players but the staff here.
"It’s my role to drive culture but it changes with the people we’ve got. The staff here as well, not only do they have expertise in their own field but they're totally committed to teamwork.
"We want to become a team that’s up there with the best of them and there's still a long way to go for us to achieve that."