Some of the fans were wearing Warriors gear and at least one was in animated discussion with police as he walked up the concourse steps before leaving the ground.
Panthers coach Cleary said Naden was “OK” in the dressing sheds after initially being shaken by the abuse.
‘He said it’s not the first time he’s heard that in his life, but in this forum it has been.’
“He said it’s not the first time he’s heard that in his life, but in this forum it has been,” Cleary said. “I don’t know exactly what was said, but it definitely affected him and, by the sounds of it, the appropriate action was taken.
“It’s obviously a big deal and there will need to be some sort of investigation. Our main objective at the moment is making sure Brent is all right.”
Cleary said he believed the racial vilification was not limited to one remark.
Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo planned to speak to Naden on Friday night. He said the code prided itself on being inclusive “and taking a leadership role in driving social change”.
“Any fan found to have racially abused a player or another fan will not be welcome at our games,” he said in a statement. “We have shown in the past that we will take the strongest possible action to ensure fans guilty of racial abuse are banned from attending the Telstra premiership.
“We will work closely with NSW Police, stadium authorities and the clubs to determine the facts and take decisive action against anyone guilty of racial abuse.”
Said Warriors chief executive Cameron George: “We do not condone any racial remarks towards anyone playing rugby league or in general and we completely support a tough stance against such behaviour.”
Naden, 24, has been a standout for the Panthers this season and only last month spoke of his pride in helping design the club’s Indigenous Round jersey. He also wore boots with a pattern created by his Dubbo-based uncle.
Naden scored the match’s opening try as the Panthers beat their previous club best eight-straight wins, racked up during their last premiership season (2003).
It was a drama-charged end to a controversial week for the Panthers, whose coach Ivan Cleary was slapped with a breach notice proposing a $20,000 fine for his post-match comments following their win over the Raiders.
Cleary said the match officials had “managed” Canberra back into the contest in the second half, but later denied he intended to question their integrity.
The Panthers were far from their best despite surging to a 16-0 lead in wet conditions at Gosford before holding off a late Warriors rally.
Asked about rewriting the history books, Cleary said: “Our history is over 50 years so it’s a pretty nice feather in the cap. That’s probably all it is, but it’s not easy to do – especially in the competition these days.
“They’re becoming a very reliable team. [But] I definitely feel we’ve got more in us.”
PENRITH PANTHERS 18 (Brent Naden, Api Koroisau, Dylan Edwards tries; Nathan Cleary 3 goals) defeated NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 12 (Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Patrick Herbert tries; Patrick Herbert 2 goals) at Central Coast Stadium. Referee: Adam Gee.
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Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.