Date: 26/4/17

The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has reluctantly announced the release of Ivan Cleary from his position of national team coach, following his appointment as head coach of Wests Tigers earlier this month.

The federation and Cleary had been discussing a possible renegotiation of the terms of their agreement but the all-consuming demands of an NRL top position meant that it was not feasible.

Cleary, who led New Zealand Warriors to the NRL Grand Final in 2011, said: “It is with regret that I am unable to complete my duties for Lebanon’s Rugby League World Cup campaign. I will be following the Cedars with very keen interest. Having begun the preparations, I truly believe that they will not only be extremely competitive in the tournament but, more importantly, will become trailblazers for the continuing development of rugby league in the country. I know the side will have massive support for the tournament.”

LRLF CEO Remond Safi commented: “We totally understand Ivan’s commitment to Wests Tigers. As he was not able to give a hundred per cent to both roles, as would be his wish, it was best to part company as each endeavour deserves to be successful in its own right. We wish him all the best with his new job.”

Safi will head out to Australia next week to interview a clutch of candidates for the role with the LRLF board having committed to not only appointing an NRL first grade or assistant coach to lead its first World Cup campaign since 2000, but also for the appointee to build a long-term relationship with local leagues and structures.