The NRL finals fate of Ivan Cleary’s West Tigers will be partly in the hands of his son and Penrith halfback Nathan on Friday night.
Cleary has spent the season talking about his desire to work with Nathan but his first born can do him an immediate favour by leading the Panthers to defeat the Warriors.
He’d also fancy the 20-year-old helping Penrith put a score on their Auckland hosts.
It would be one of the several results that will assist the Tigers as they hope to keep their finals hopes alive after they held out Manly 22-20 on Thursday night at Campbelltown.
The Tigers now need either the Warriors or Brisbane to lose both their last two games, and then coach Cleary’s men must also beat South Sydney at ANZ Stadium next Thursday night.
The Warriors games are against the Panthers and Canberra, while the Broncos face the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night and the Sea Eagles next Sunday.
Crucially, the Tigers still need a significant for-and-against swing to go in their favour on both teams after they blew the chance to pile the points on Manly after leading 22-8 midway through the second half on Thursday.
“There’s a certain No.7 who knows what to do. Hopefully they can do their job over there,” Cleary said of Nathan.
“I’ll sit there and watch, but what can you do? You’ve just got to cross your fingers.
“It’s great we’re still alive at this point.”
If the Tigers remain a chance headed into next weekend, they’ll again have the advantage of playing first against the Rabbitohs to put pressure on the teams above them.
The joint-venture also go into the game knowing they dealt the Rabbitohs their second-heaviest defeat of the season last month, and have won five-from-seven against the current top-four teams this year.
“It definitely helps if you’ve beaten sides before,” Cleary said.
“We’ve shown that we can beat the best teams. We’re going to have to play a fair bit better though.