Gus backs Clearys joining forces
PENRITH supremo Phil Gould predicts it's only a matter of time before Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary leaves the club to team up with his father Ivan.
Nathan's NRL future will be a closely scrutinised over the next four months as he prepares to come off contract at the end of next year.
The 20-year-old will be allowed to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1 and both he and his father - the coach of the Wests Tigers - have publicly stated their desire to team up at some point.
Losing the NSW No.7 would be a massive blow for the Panthers, who have nursed him through the grades to be one of the premier playmakers in the competition.
Nathan's decision will also have big ramifications for the Tigers' recruitment, with halfback Luke Brooks off contract at the end of 2019 as well.
Gould said he had no doubt at one point Nathan would leave the club to work with Ivan, and he would give his blessing.
"The answer is very simple - Ivan is a father who wants to coach his son, we all understand that," Gould told the Nine Network.
"Nathan is a son who would like to play for his father one day - we all understand that.
"I believe it will happen. And I would like to see it happen. But the decision right now is in Nathan's hands.
"Neither his father or I are putting any pressure on him."
Nathan has previously said he would consider his next contract around the time of his 21st birthday - November 14.
Gould said he was refusing to put pressure on Nathan to stay and wouldn't stand in the playmaker's way if he decided to leave the foot of the mountains.
"He'll make a decision at the end of the year," Gould said.
"Whatever that decision is, I will support it 100 per cent and Ivan will support it 100 per cent because it's his career.
"But I have an agreement with Nathan. If one day he says 'I want to go play with my dad', let's make it happen. I've got no problem with him going to play with his father whatsoever."