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Penrith coach Ivan Cleary hits back at Storm boss as war of words between clubs goes the next level

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has lit the fuse for Thursday night’s much anticipated clash with Penrith by hitting back at Melbourne Storm boss Matt Tripp after labeling the NRL prime ministers ‘arrogant’.

It comes just days after Greg Alexander, the big Panthers club, accused Craig Bellamy’s team on SEN Radio of being responsible for a number of dangerous tackles that the NRL must remove from the game.

“When the deputy chairman (Alexander) of one of our biggest competitors makes baseless and stupid remarks like he has done, it’s simply about the arrogance of that club and their perceived status in the game at the moment,” Tripp said. Fairfax Media.

“You can say a lot about the Melbourne Storm, but the one thing they can’t be accused of is arrogance.

Melbourne Storm boss Matt Tripp has lit the fuse for Thursday's clash against Penrith at BlueBet Stadium after labeling NRL premieres 'arrogant'

Melbourne Storm boss Matt Tripp has lit the fuse for Thursday’s clash against Penrith at BlueBet Stadium after labeling NRL premieres ‘arrogant’

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary felt Alexander was entitled to his opinion that the Storm pioneered the dirty tactics that plagued the NRL

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary felt Alexander was entitled to his opinion that the Storm pioneered the dirty tactics that plagued the NRL

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary felt Alexander was entitled to his opinion that the Storm pioneered the dirty tactics that plagued the NRL

“We do our business and don’t make outlandish comments – we respond to comments, but you won’t see us in the forefront with stupid comments, especially about other clubs and their tactics.”

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary thought Tripp’s damning “arrogant” assessment was wrong, and was quick to add that Alexander’s opinion of the Storm was personal and not one shared by his club.

“I think if anyone can have an opinion, it’s Brandy (Alexander), and I think most of his opinions are perfect, but that was his opinion in a very different role (from his duties with the Panthers),” said Cleary on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s fair for anyone at our club to be labeled as what we were, but these things happen.”

Last week, NRL great Greg Alexander sensationally accused Melbourne of introducing some questionable tackling techniques into the NRL dating back to 2002.

Last week, NRL great Greg Alexander sensationally accused Melbourne of introducing some questionable tackling techniques into the NRL dating back to 2002.

Last week, NRL great Greg Alexander sensationally accused Melbourne of introducing some questionable tackling techniques into the NRL dating back to 2002.

He denied that there was any arrogance within the Panthers’ ranks.

“I don’t know why people say it, all I can say is I don’t believe it to be true,” Cleary added.

“The consistency we’ve shown over the past three years, I don’t think you can do that if you’re disrespectful or arrogant.”

Alexander stated last week that Melbourne is responsible for some questionable techniques in the NRL dating back two decades.

Speaking on SEN Radio, Alexander mentioned the Storm and their longtime former captain Cameron Smith, who vigorously defended the club against the explosive charge.

“I didn’t think it was a revelation when I made those comments about the hip drop coming out of Melbourne Storm,” Alexander said during the breakfast sports show he co-hosts with fellow rugby league identity Andrew Voss.

“I thought it was just the general consensus that in the last 20 years all tackles, wrestling techniques had come from Melbourne.

“Maybe I’ll draw a conclusion, but I don’t think so.”

Alexander went on to provide evidence for his claim, pointing out that two of the first three charges for hip drop tackles in the 2020 NRL season came from Melbourne Storm players Jesse Bromwich and Max King.

“I remember the Max King incident clearly because I called the game (for Fox Sports)… (Max) King just fell on the back of Blake Lawrie’s leg,” he said.

Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai is known for pushing boundaries on the pitch in the heat of battle

Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai is known for pushing boundaries on the pitch in the heat of battle

Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai is known for pushing boundaries on the pitch in the heat of battle

Center Stephen Crichton is another Penrith player who feels NRL rivals make for extra niggle

Center Stephen Crichton is another Penrith player who feels NRL rivals make for extra niggle

Center Stephen Crichton is another Penrith player who feels NRL rivals make for extra niggle

“I think history shows – and it’s not a long haul for me to come to a Melbourne Storm conclusion – that the grapple, the chicken wing, the rolling pin, the crusher, the hip-drop – I think they’re all come from Melbourne. They have shown the way.

“They changed the game in 2002-2003 when wrestling became part of the game.”

It prompted Storm greats Cameron Smith – a colleague of Alexander’s on SEN – to hit back on the airwaves.

“I don’t know how you can think of that (comment),” Smith said. “To single out one club to say that they introduced tackle to our sport is a bit of an exaggeration.

“By heart, I can’t remember ever seeing Brandy (Alexander) at one of our practices. I can not do it.

“To single out the Melbourne Storm, that’s really unfair.”

Panthers vice chairman Greg Alexander believes the Storm - long accused of slowing the ruck with wrestling techniques - also brought foul tackles like the hip drop that recently broke the leg of Wests Tigers star Jackson Hastings

Panthers vice chairman Greg Alexander believes the Storm - long accused of slowing the ruck with wrestling techniques - also brought foul tackles like the hip drop that recently broke the leg of Wests Tigers star Jackson Hastings

Panthers vice chairman Greg Alexander believes the Storm – long accused of slowing the ruck with wrestling techniques – also brought foul tackles like the hip drop that recently broke the leg of Wests Tigers star Jackson Hastings

Ahead of the round 22 grudge match in Sydney’s west, Melbourne will not be able to call on backrower Felise Kaufusi, who will miss the match following the death of his father.

The Storm has fullback Nick Meaney returning from a headbutt and centering Justin Olam from Covid-19, with Cooper Johns replacing the injured Jahrome Hughes as halfback.

The Panthers have benched Viliame Kikau after his hip injury, but winger Taylan May is in doubt due to a shoulder injury.

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