The Panthers fly to England on Friday for the World Club Challenge. The Panthers lost both games in England after their title success in 1991 and 2003.
Last year’s shock loss to St Helens, and the emotion shown by the players after full-time, have Cleary a new appreciation of the game.
“I think losing last year, and seeing what it meant to St Helens, it made us all realise howe big a deal it is,” Cleary said.
Jarome Luai will be on the plane, but there remains big doubts about whether he will take the field against Wigan because of his shoulder.
Luai said of coach Cleary’s standing in the game: “In terms of Ivan, I don’t think he [gets the credit] in terms of what this team has done. You hear a lot about Wayne, Wayne has coached a lot more games than ‘Iv’, which is why he gets more raps, but Iv is up there in the conversation with Bellamy. He’s done an amazing job here.”
Meanwhile, South Sydney received some good news with scans confirming Cody Walker suffered a low grade-one calf strain, and will be given every chance to take his place in Las Vegas against Manly.
“It was a good result, it’s really minor, and we’re very optimistic he should be right to go by round one,” coach Jason Demetriou said.
Walker was forced to pull out of the All Stars clash on Friday, and will not play any role in Souths’ Charity Shield game on Saturday. Dean Hawkins will start in the halves alongside Lachie Ilias.
The news was not as good for young winger Tyrone Munro, who broke his collarbone on the weekend and will be out for up to two months. Munro was right in the mix to start the season on the right wing alongside Campbell Graham, who has since been forced to undergo sternum surgery and will miss six months.
Episode one of Undisputed streams on 9Now at midday on Friday.