- Nathan Cleary has returned to pre-season training
- Panthers are chasing a fourth NRL premiership in 2024
- Comes as halfback was coy when quizzed about Mary Fowler
Nathan Cleary’s injury from the NRL grand final has been compared to what he’d suffer if he was in a car accident as the Panthers halfback returned to pre-season training on Thursday.
Cleary, 26, engaged in some fitness drills with his teammates before then taking part in a field session in Sydney’s west.
It comes as Cleary was left red-faced earlier this week at the GQ Awards when quizzed about his girlfriend, Matildas star Mary Fowler.
He was hit with an obvious question on the red carpet not long after arriving in Bondi: ‘Where’s Mary?’
‘I knew this was coming,’ he told News Corp. ‘I’m just here by myself…No plus-one. She’s busy.’
Nathan Cleary’s ‘car crash injury’ stemming from the NRL grand final has been revealed as the Panthers halfback returned to pre-season training on Thursday
The NRL superstar caught up with rumoured girlfriend Mary Fowler in Perth recently, with his knee in a brace after being seriously hurt in the year’s biggest game (pictured)
Cleary was also coy earlier this week at the GQ Awards when quizzed about the Matildas star
Amid ongoing speculation, the couple went public with their relationship in Perth last month.
It comes as Panthers physio Pete Green was impressed at Cleary’s movement after the playmaker suffered a grade-three posterior cruciate ligament rupture in his knee while being tackled by Payne Haas in the epic decider.
If the injury had unfolded during the season, Cleary would have been out of action for two months.
The knee complaint made Cleary a late withdrawal from the Pacific Championships, which New Zealand won against a shell-shocked Australia squad.
‘They call it the dashboard car injury, where if you have a head-on accident it can typically damage or rupture that ligament, such is the force involved,’ Green said.
‘Had it been during the season, and what time of year it was, he could have come back half-done in two or three weeks, or you come back properly in six to eight weeks.
‘Considering he has travelled around a fair bit [Perth, Bali and the US] with little rehab, he was in remarkable shape.’
Meanwhile, Cleary’s halves partner Jarome Luai also returned to training, with his playing future beyond 2024 still uncertain.
CEO Matt Cameron indicated the premiers will offer the in demand five-eighth a three-year deal, but the money won’t match the likes of the Tigers and Bulldogs due to salary cap restraints.