The Wests Tigers are set to offer Ivan Cleary a three and a half year deal after club hierarchy met with the coach on Monday to discuss plans for him to lead the joint venture until the end of 2020.
The Tigers are now in the final stages of negotiations and wrapping up a deal which will likely see Cleary join this week but he may not take the coaching reins until their round six clash against the Cowboys.
The board has given the green light for chief executive Justin Pascoe, who has a close relationship with Cleary from their time together at Penrith, to finalise the contract before they sign off on the deal.
Cleary’s pending arrival at Concord will bring an end to speculation linking him to the Bulldogs as a replacement for Des Hasler, whose future will be the main topic of discussion at Thursday’s Canterbury board meeting at ANZ Stadium.
The Tigers haven’t given up hope of playing finals football in 2017, hence their desire to move quickly on securing Cleary’s services.
However the club also needs to make significant decisions regarding their roster, which will be Cleary’s first assignment when he returns to the NRL coaching ranks in the coming days.
Aaron Woods, James Tedesco, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks have been waiting for the club to decide on who will be coach in 2018 and beyond before committing to the club.
But now that the picture is about to become a whole lot clearer, the club will look to finalise the four as soon as possible.
An announcement on Cleary’s appointment could be made as early as Wednesday if the club and Cleary’s management come to a quick agreement over the details of the deal.
There has been a suggestion the Bulldogs have been circling for Woods, however given the uncertainty surrounding their coaching position it seems unlikely the Australian prop will leave his beloved Tigers unless there are complications between he and Cleary.
Despite last Sunday’s loss to the Storm, Tigers officials remain confident about their aspirations for this season given a notable “improvement in effort” from the previous two weeks.