Cleary gives ultimatum to off-contract Tigers duo
IVAN Cleary has been the coach of the Wests Tigers for 17 days, but looked like he had been doing the job 17 years.
Cleary fronted the media at Concord Oval unannounced on Thursday to let the rugby league world know superstar fullback James Tedesco and skipper Aaron Woods had until the close of business on Friday to make a call on their futures.
His body language suggested he already knew the pair was about to leave.
Cleary had detected the "constant speculation" was starting to affect his team and it was time to bring it to an end.
"We don't want to go another game with that," Cleary said.
"We'd love them to stay, at this stage we have no information in regards to decisions, but that will obviously come. Whatever happens, we will respect those decisions ... we'll work together and make sure we deliver the best outcome for Wests Tigers."
Cleary was just as bullish about hitting the open market with a fat chequebook and snapping up "extremely high-calibre, credentialed players" in the event of Tedesco and Woods exiting.
Expect Dragons duo Josh Dugan and Gareth Widdop to be at the top of their wish list.
"That's the professional environment we live in, and if that is the case - and I reiterate I hope it's not - I can certainly guarantee Wests Tigers supporters that we will be able to attract some extremely high-calibre, credentialed players," Cleary said.
He also took the opportunity to confirm Parramatta-bound Mitchell Moses would see out the season.
"We informed him we need him, the team needs him, he's a member of the team, that's how it will be," Cleary said.
And he also tried to bite his tongue about the NRL, his former employer, which has allowed player transfers and speculation to overshadow on-field performances.
"I only walked in here (what felt like) yesterday, but it would be nice to focus a little more on coaching," Cleary said.
"It's unfortunate that's the system we work in, and we're a good example of how it can get out of control a little bit. I'm glad people in the NRL think it's good that the speculation is good for our game.
"Hopefully we can get beyond the speculation and deliver a good performance on Sunday. That's where our bread and butter is."
Cleary said there was "probably" a better way the player transfers could be handled, but "I don't want to talk about answers today".
"One thing I found out (while working at the NRL) is it's not an easy job in there, there are a lot of things to consider they are doing a great job, but having now sat through this a couple of weeks, it's a situation I've never been in to this level, you'd have to sit down and really consider a better way."