Still on the hunt for his next NRL coaching gig, in the meantime, Ivan Cleary has taken up a role of a different kind and has been named as the new head coach of the Lebanese rugby league team.
The former Penrith Panthers and New Zealand Warriors coach will take charge of the Cedars side for this year’s Rugby League World Cup.
With Lebanon always developing and growing, Cleary said he was excited to take part in helping them achieve their goals.
“I was privileged to have been involved in the previous Rugby League World Cup with the New Zealand squad, so to now have the opportunity to be the head coach of a developing nation such as Lebanon is something that I’m really excited about,” said the former NRL coach.
“The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has worked hard to establish their local competition and I believe that this is an important opportunity to help lift the exposure of the game – particularly from a grassroots level.”
The Rugby League World Cup often provides inspiring moments from developing nations and Cleary is looking forward to helping to ensuring their continued growth.
“With Lebanon qualifying for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, I believe we have a huge opportunity to increase participation numbers in Lebanon and that’s really important for the growth of the international game,” Cleary continued.
“From a cultural perspective, the tournament is important for a lot of players to either represent their country of birth or for those who were born outside of Lebanon, to represent their family heritage.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Lebanon team and the RLWC tournament is a great chance to showcase the great talent that the nation has to offer,” he added.
Just the second World Cup that the Lebanese side has qualified for in their history, Lebanon wants to make an impact. With their continued growth and the appointment of Cleary as head coach, they believe they are in a good place.
“Having Ivan appointed as the Lebanon Cedars head coach is definitely a move in the right direction and it’s an appointment that shows that we are genuine about the competing in this year’s World Cup,” said LRLF CEO, Remond Safi.
“Having a successful campaign and reaching the next round will certainly take the game to another level with attracting new interest to the game in Lebanon and lay a pathway for players to play at international level.”
His experience can help bring the best out of all players involved in the set-up from local players to those playing overseas which helps Lebanese rugby league.
“Working with players and staff in our local competition in Lebanon, as well as our Australian-based squad members, will be an important part of the role and we believe we have the right man for the job.
“Ivan has a wealth of experience in rugby league, both as a player and coach, and I believe it will be of great benefit to our players as preparations continue for the World Cup later this year,” he said.