“I kind of knew when it happened that something wasn’t right,” Cleary said of the first injury in the 10th minute.
“I’ve been lucky enough to not have any shoulder injuries throughout my career so far.
“But I felt it when I fell on the ground. I got up, I was never really worried about not being able to play with it, and I got on with it.
“Half-time came and I got it strapped. It started to get more sore, but the last 20 minutes I wanted to stay out there and enjoy what was going on … you don’t get an opportunity too often to win games at Suncorp, let alone a series up there and the way we did it.”
Scans not only revealed Cleary had partially dislocated his shoulder but also suffered a labral tear, which will require surgery most likely at the end of the year.
Should the 23-year-old’s shoulder not respond to treatment the next month, he could be forced to go under the knife beforehand.
“But as far as I’m concerned I’ll be back playing footy this year,” Cleary said.
Ivan quipped he had shoulders like a “brown snake” and “I had plenty of shoulder problems, it’s in my family”.
“He must get the stronger shoulders from his mother’s side – most of the good stuff comes from his mother’s side,” Ivan said.
The Panthers coach knew straight away his son had injured himself, but disguising the pain from Queensland and some of his own NSW medical staff helped him.
“I’m always a bit loath to give my son too many raps … I’m extremely proud of that performance, and that will not only pay him back in the long run but it also sets the standard for our team,” Cleary said.
“It was a bit of old-fashioned toughness. In today’s game, it discourages that type of play, the game can stop at any minute at the moment … the fact [the] Queensland team didn’t even know he was injured so they couldn’t target him; he knew it was important he didn’t show he was injured because then he would be targeted. It was his way of mentally dealing with it and getting on with it.”
Andrew Johns wrote in his weekly Herald column Penrith could not win a grand final without their halfback, but father and son naturally thought otherwise.
“I think the way our team works, it’s quite similar to the mentality of the Blues team, everyone has that team-first mentality, and people who step up to the role are more than capable of doing the job,” Nathan said.
Ivan added: “I don’t think there’s any point worrying about grand finals at this point. We’re only worried about Parramatta on Friday night.”
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