Ivan Cleary has announced his next big coaching move in the world of rugby league with the former Panthers and Warriors coach heading to Asia to be the head coach of Lebanon.
Newly-appointed Lebanon Rugby League head coach, Ivan Cleary.
Source: 1 NEWS
Cleary has agreed to coach The Cedars at this year's Rugby League World Cup after stints in the NRL with the Warriors from 2006 to 2011 and three years with the Panthers from 2012.
Lebanon Rugby League Federation said they were delighted to secure someone with nearly 250 games of NRL coaching experience.
"I was privileged to have been involved in the previous Rugby League World Cup with the New Zealand squad," Cleary said.
"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."
It is only the second time in Rugby League World Cup history Lebanon have qualified for the tournament, but LRLF CEO Remond Safi says today's appointment sends a "clear message" about their aspirations heading into it.
"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," Safi said.
"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.
"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."
Cleary says the opportunity to guide a developing nation at a World Cup was an offer he was eager to take up.
"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."
Lebanon are currently ranked 21 in the world.
Lebanon's Rugby League World Cup Schedule
Lebanon vs France, 29 October 2017, Canberra Stadium
Lebanon vs England, 5 November 2017, Sydney Football Stadium
Lebanon vs Australia, 11 November 2017, Sydney Football Stadium