Ivan Cleary has revealed interest in luring Matt Moylan to the Wests Tigers if he becomes available from Penrith.
Having given Moylan his NRL debut in 2013 at the Panthers, he has remained in contact with the 26-year-old since Cleary’s Penrith departure in 2015.
Moylan also has links to the Tigers through their chief executive Justin Pascoe, who had been at Penrith as chief operating officer and CEO from 2012-15.
The Panthers insisted after meeting Moylan on Monday that he and the club were “100 per cent committed” to his future at Penrith. But it came just days after chief executiveBrian Fletcher revealed the player only a “50-50” chance of being at the club next year.
And while Cleary said he believed the fullback-turned-five-eighth would stay, he’d consider pouncing if he was released by the Panthers.
“He’s never stated he wants to leave. But it’s been a big deal, right?” Cleary said.
“So would I be interested? Yes.
“But that hasn’t happened yet. It’s all speculation at this stage.
“I rate him as a player and as a person.”
The Tigers still have salary-cap space available for next year.
After developing his team in leaps and bounds at the end of a whirlwind year, Cleary is prepared to play the waiting game and see what becomes available from other clubs before making his move.
And speaking at Tuesday’s club awards night, he said finding an external replacement for the departing James Tedesco at fullback was still an option.
“A guy like James Tedesco is just basically impossible to replace,” Cleary said.
“That role is probably up for grabs.
“Certainly Tui Lolohea is in the box seat there, but there is probably another signing somewhere along the line of someone who can fill that kind of role, too.”
Moylan on Monday was granted time away from the game by the Panthers to deal with personal issues. He is unlikely to play again this season for Penrith.
Cleary admitted he’d been surprised by the situation playing out at Penrith, but was not privy to the details.
Moylan was given the Panthers’ captaincy after Cleary’s departure in 2015, and the Tigers coach said he hoped the role hadn’t put too much on his plate.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Matt,” Cleary said.
“I’ve really enjoyed coaching him and kept a relationship with him since. I find him a terrific kid and great player.
“I’m not too sure what’s happened there. I would hate to feel as though he’s got too much to do.
“Knowing Matt for what he is, I’m sure he hasn’t done anything wrong. I hope it works out one way or another.”