22 Jan 2017

Cleary appointed Lebanon head coach

6:14 am on 22 January 2017

Former Warriors head coach Ivan Cleary has been appointed head coach of the Lebanese Rugby League national team ahead of the 2017 World Cup.

League coach Ivan Cleary.

League coach Ivan Cleary. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cleary coached the Warriors NRL side between 2006 and 2011, before starting a three-year stint with the Panthers in 2012 with a total of 249 games experience under his belt.

Cleary said it was an opportunity to guide a developing nation to this year's Rugby League World Cup was one that he was eager to take up.

"I was privileged to have been involved in the previous Rugby League World Cup with the New Zealand squad, 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.

"The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has worked hard to establish their local competition and I believe that this is an important opportunity to help lift the exposure of the game - particularly from a grassroots level.

"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.

"From a cultural perspective, the tournament is important for a lot of players to either represent their country of birth, or for those who were born outside of Lebanon, to represent their family heritage.

"I'm looking forward to working with the Lebanon team and the Rugby League World Cup tournament is a great chance to showcase the great talent that the nation has to offer," he said.

The Rugby League World Cup 2017 will be only the second time The Cedars have qualified for the sport's pinnacle international event.

Lebanon, currently ranked 21 in the world, have been drawn in Pool A in this year's Rugby League World Cup and will play Australia, England and France during the pool stages, with the top three teams progressing to the quarter finals.