The Penrith Panthers coach labelled the criticism levelled at his side in the past week unfair after their win over Brisbane.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has labelled the criticism levelled at his side in the past week unfair, following the Panthers come-from-behind win over the Broncos last night.

The ladder-leaders copped it from the media and Raiders CEO Don Furner this week after their clash with Canberra, with Penrith accused of showing a lack of class during try celebrations. Panthers players responded to the criticism in their own way, with a cheeky nod to the haters, during their hard-fought 20-12 win over the Broncos to maintain their unbeaten run in 2021.

It was Penrith’s 23nd win from their last 24 games, the only loss coming in the grand final to Melbourne.

When asked about his side’s perceived attitude, Cleary declared his players are “exuberant” but respectful, and claimed their success is the reason why some feel the need to drag them down.

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“It was discussed on the run because stories have come out,” Cleary said.

“But respect is a value of our team.

“Our boys have been doing the same thing pretty much for the last 18 months and everyone loved us when we did it last year.

“But now we have got through the honeymoon period and now I guess through a bit of success people look at us differently maybe.

“We care about how we behave but they are exuberant young men who love playing footy.

“If people see that as maybe going over the line sometimes then maybe, but I don’t know.

“I love them. And honestly in my opinion if I thought it was getting out of hand I would do something about it.

Ivan Cleary

“But they are just young and they will learn as well. But I think it is a storm in a tea cup to be honest.”

Penrith players hit back at critics with a a tongue-in-cheek response during the match, when Brian To’o and Matt Burton were seen shaking hands after a try in the first half. Cleary said he has no problem with the way his players act and wants them to be themselves.

“It looks a bit like that (tall poppy-syndrome),” Cleary said.

“We don’t call each other tall poppies but maybe other people are and that is a bit of kudos to our boys.

“But honestly I don’t know. Maybe I see it differently.

“You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. People like to see kids with a bit of character and they are just being themselves.”

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