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Warm Warriors reception likely for Cleary
Daniel Gilhooly
15:30 AEST Fri Aug 17 2012

It's not often a visiting NRL coach gets a warmer reception than the home team but this Warriors campaign has done away with accepted norms.

Brian McClennan's tenure is suddenly looking shaky as the Warriors prepare to host Penrith, coached by his predecessor Ivan Cleary.

While Cleary's team have their own share of problems, it's McClennan who has come under the blowtorch following five straight losses - the last two by heavy margins.

Club chief executive Wayne Scurrah has refused to guarantee McClennan's job is safe beyond this year while the club undergoes a review.

Tongues wagged even more when it was revealed Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney would hold talks with Warriors officials this weekend.

McClennan has accepted he "drives the bus" and should be accountable for the slide to 13th place with three rounds remaining.

"It's been a pretty sad place the last couple of weeks," McClennan said.

"We're desperate to turn it around, we're at home and it's just so important that we come out of it with a bit of joy."

Cleary's return to Auckland hadn't been high on his agenda but McClennan predicted a royal reception at Mt Smart Stadium for the man who guided the Warriors to last year's grand final in his sixth season as head coach.

Cleary was also fullback when the Warriors made their only other grand final appearance, in 2002.

"For the club, Ivan will be welcomed by the members and the fans, because there's a real warm spot for him from everyone here - not only as a coach but as a player as well."

Cleary's Panthers sit level in last place with Parramatta, four points behind the Warriors, having lost seven of their last nine games.

Both sides boast dire defensive records, with the hosts having conceded 97 points in their past two matches against the Sharks and Cowboys.


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