Nathan Cleary (Rugby Footballer) – Biography Points

Nathan Cleary A Rugby League Prodigy

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Nathan Cleary (Rugby Footballer)

Nathan Cleary, a name synonymous with exceptional talent and extraordinary dedication in the world of rugby league, has carved a niche for himself as one of the sport’s most dynamic players. His journey from a young prodigy to a celebrated rugby league footballer is a testament to his hard work, strategic prowess, and unyielding passion for the game.

Nathan Cleary, born on November 14, 1997, is a prominent Australian professional rugby league player, known for his exceptional skills as a halfback. He plays for the Penrith Panthers in the NRL and represents Australia on the international stage. His remarkable career includes winning the Clive Churchill Medal in both 2021 and 2023, and he was honored as the Dally M Halfback of the Year in 2020 and 2021. As a co-captain, Nathan Cleary led the Panthers to three consecutive premiership victories from 2021 to 2023, solidifying his reputation as one of the greatest halfbacks in the history of the sport.

Nathan Cleary has also been a key player for the NSW Blues in State of Origin, has represented City NSW, and has proudly worn the green and gold for Australia at the international level.

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Nathan Cleary
14 November 1997
Date of Birth14 November 1997
Birth PlaceSydney, New South Wales, Australia
NationalityAustralian
Height182 cm (6 ft 0 in)
Weight92 kg (14 st 7 lb)
PositionHalfback
EducationSacred Heart College Auckland, St Dominic’s College
ParentsIvan Cleary, Rebecca Cleary

Early Life and Background

Nathan is the son of Ivan Cleary, a former professional rugby league player and current coach of the Penrith Panthers. Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Nathan spent part of his childhood in Auckland, New Zealand, where his father played and later coached the New Zealand Warriors. During his time in Auckland, Nathan attended Sacred Heart College for two years.

Originally a soccer enthusiast, Nathan switched to rugby league during his pre-teens. He played junior rugby for the Mount Albert Lions in Auckland and later for the Penrith Brothers in Sydney. Nathan completed his high school education at St Dominic’s College, Penrith, in 2015, where he was also a prefect.

Playing Career

Nathan Cleary progressed through the Penrith club’s junior system, playing in their Harold Matthews Cup (under 16) and S. G. Ball Cup (under 18) teams, captaining the latter in 2015. He appeared for the Windsor Wolves in the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield, before being called into Penrith’s National Youth Competition (under 20) squad mid-season. Nathan Cleary captained the Australian Schoolboys team during their two-match series against New Zealand under-18s. He played 20 games, scoring 11 tries and kicking 109 goals for 262 points in his U20s career from 2015 to 2016.

Early Career (2016)

Nathan Cleary started the 2016 season as Penrith’s first-choice halfback in the NYC. He played for the Junior Kangaroos against the Junior Kiwis in May, scoring a try and kicking five goals in the 34-20 win. Cleary made his NRL debut for the Penrith Panthers against the Melbourne Storm at five-eighth in round 13. Despite a 6-24 defeat, Nathan Cleary made 38 tackles. He scored his first NRL try against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in his second match. Nathan Cleary finished his debut season with 3 tries and 52 goals from 15 matches, becoming Penrith’s highest point-scorer with 116 points. He was named in the emerging NSW Blues squad.

2017 - 2018

Nathan Cleary was named in Penrith’s squad for the 2017 NRL Auckland Nines and played for the NSW City Origin team. He finished the season as the highest point-scorer in the NRL with 228 points, the youngest player to achieve this since 1913. Nathan Cleary played in all 26 games for Penrith, scoring 11 tries and kicking 92 goals, becoming the youngest player ever to score 200 points in a season.

Cleary started the 2018 season strong before suffering a knee injury in Round 3. He returned in Round 11 and helped Penrith secure a 16-2 victory over the Wests Tigers. Nathan Cleary made his State of Origin debut for New South Wales in Game 1 of the 2018 series, starting at halfback in the 22-12 win. He played in all three Origin games that year for the Blues.

2019 - 2020

Despite criticism for Penrith’s underwhelming start to the 2019 season, Nathan Cleary kicked a crucial goal from the sideline and a 40-meter field goal to win the game against the Wests Tigers in Round 4. He was selected for New South Wales in the State of Origin series and helped the team win Game 2. Nathan Cleary finished the season with a remarkable 34 points in the final game against Newcastle, scoring 4 tries and kicking 9 goals.

Nathan Cleary had a standout 2020 season, including scoring a hat-trick and kicking a field goal in the qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters. Despite Penrith’s grand final loss to Melbourne, Cleary was Penrith’s key player throughout the season. He played for New South Wales in the State of Origin series, where he was awarded man of the match in Game 2.

2021 - 2022

Nathan Cleary had a stellar 2021 season, scoring a hat-trick and kicking eight goals in Penrith’s victory over the Gold Coast in Round 10. He played a crucial role in New South Wales’ 50-6 victory over Queensland in Game 1 of the State of Origin series. Despite a shoulder injury, Cleary returned to lead Penrith to victory in the 2021 NRL Grand Final and was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal.

Nathan Cleary was selected for the New South Wales State of Origin team and played a key role in their Game 2 victory over Queensland. He played 17 games for Penrith in the 2022 season, including their grand final victory over Parramatta. Cleary was named in the Australian squad for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, where he made his debut and played a crucial role in Australia’s victory over Samoa in the final.

2023 - 2024

Nathan Cleary continued his impressive form in 2023, including scoring a two-point field goal from 40 meters out in Round 4 and a man-of-the-match performance in the preliminary final against Melbourne. He played 22 matches for Penrith, including their grand final victory over Brisbane, where he won the Clive Churchill Medal. Cleary’s leadership and performance were instrumental in Penrith’s third consecutive premiership win.

In early 2024, Nathan Cleary played in Penrith’s World Club Challenge final loss against Wigan and was later ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury. He re-injured his hamstring in Penrith’s Round 10 win against Canterbury, leading to another eight-week absence. Despite these setbacks, Cleary remains a vital player for Penrith and is expected to make a strong return.

Honours

Individual

  • Ben Alexander Rookie of the Year: 2016
  • Penrith Panthers Members’ Player of the Year: 2016, 2020
  • Merv Cartwright Medal: 2020, 2021
  • RLPA Halfback of the Year: 2020, 2021
  • RLPA Players’ Champion: 2020
  • Brad Fittler Medal: 2020
  • Dally M Halfback of the Year: 2020, 2021
  • Clive Churchill Medal: 2021, 2023

Penrith Panthers

  • NRL Premiership: 2021, 2022, 2023
  • NRL Minor Premiership: 2020, 2022, 2023
  • NRL Grand Final Runners-up: 2020

New South Wales

  • State of Origin series: 2018, 2019, 2021

Australia

  • World Cup: 2021

Career Statistics

Club
Years Team  Pld (T) (G) (FG) (P)
2016 Penrith Panthers 164 (57) (602) (15) (1449)
Representative
YearsTeam Pld (T) (G) (FG) (P)
2017City NSW1 (0) (0) (0) (0)
2018–23 New South Wales14 (2) (43) (0) (94)
2022Australia5 (1) (32) (0) (68)
Total320 (3) (75) (0) (162)

Coronavirus Controversy

On April 28, 2020, Nathan Cleary was fined $10,000 after breaking protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was pictured at his home with a group of women on Anzac Day, and the photo was uploaded to social media. Cleary later apologized to the Penrith club and his teammates over the incident. However, a video of Cleary dancing with the women emerged, questioning the validity of his apology. For lying about the incident, Nathan Cleary was hit with a two-match ban and a $30,000 fine. It was then revealed that Cleary had lied about the girls visiting his house and actually went to pick them up.

Statistics

Club Career

SeasonTeamMatchesTGGK %F/GPts
2016Penrith1535380.30%0118
2017Penrith26119290.20%0228
2018Penrith1744078.43%298
2019Penrith21105887.88%1157
2020Penrith2188679.63%4208
2021Penrith20109485.45%2[a]231
2022Penrith1737685.39%1165
2023Penrith2288983.96%5[b]216
2024Penrith5014 028
Career totals 1645760284.24%151449

Head-to-Head Records

OpponentPlayedWonDrawnLostWin %
Knights980189
Titans870188
Sea Eagles12100283
Bulldogs1080280
Cowboys860275
Raiders1180373
Roosters1180373
Tigers1180373
Dragons750271
Warriors1070370
Rabbitohs16110569
Sharks1060460
Storm1060460
Eels1580753
Broncos1050550

Points vs Every Team

OpponentPlayedTriesGoalsField GoalsTotal Points
Rabbitohs166561137
Sea Eagles124510118
Knights96452116
Roosters115471115
Raiders115442114
Eels153452*105
Sharks10343098
Warriors10438092
Titans8533187
Broncos103323*80
Tigers11136278
Bulldogs10137078
Cowboys8526072
Storm10227163
Dragons7322056

Personal Life

Nathan Cleary is of Croatian and Ukrainian descent. He has family ties to rugby league, being the nephew of former players Josh Stuart and Jason Death. Although he once held a New Zealand passport, his allegiance has always been with the Australian Rugby League.

Cleary is a co-owner of Drink West Brewery with Tyson Pedro and Tai Tuivasa. In October 2023, he announced his support for the Yes campaign for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. In August 2023, Nathan Cleary started dating Australian women’s footballer Mary Fowler, and they went public with their relationship in January 2024.

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