NRL side to turn to UFC fighters to bolster their defence

Often the legacy of a great team extends outwards from the team itself and infects other teams as well.

That is true of the Penrith Panthers with Ivan Cleary’s two top notch assistants leaving the club for Head Coaching roles with Cameron Ciraldo taking over at the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Ciraldo promised he would not chase Penrith players in 2023 but that rule did not apply to the UFC fighters who helped bolster the Panthers’ defence which helped take them to a second consecutive Grand Final win.

Fox League revealed Ciraldo will still be joined by the Australian fight crew headed by UFC superstar Robert Whittaker.

For the past two years, Whittaker and his western Sydney team — which includes, among others, coach Alex Prates and fellow UFC fighter Jacob Malkoun — have been working behind the scenes as the Panthers wrestling coaches, and helping to transform the Panthers into a defensive juggernaut.

Asked to describe the impact they had on the club that would eventually become back-to-back premiers,  key man Nathan Cleary replied: “Massive”.

According to Fox League the move has already been green lit by the Panthers and even Ivan Cleary himself demonstrating the persisting respect he has for Ciraldo.

If they have the same effect at Canterbury as the Panthers, they will do well.

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