NRL 2019: Panthers coach Ivan Cleary confirms approaching referee at halftime

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary insists there was "nothing untoward" his approach to the NRL referees at halftime of their tense loss to Canberra.

As the race towards the finals heats up, Cleary on Sunday became the latest coach to be embroiled in a refereeing controversy in a round full of contentious decisions. 

Panthers pair James Tamou and James Maloney were seen in heated discussions with the officials after the first half ended at Panthers Stadium. 

It was reported the conversations spilled into tunnel, where Cleary is believed to have also emerged and had some words for referee Ashley Klein. 

"I actually went to speak to our captain, Jimmy Tamou to get him to talk to the refs, which he did," Cleary said post-game.

Asked if he said anything to the referees, Cleary said: 'I might've spoken to them, yeah, possibly. You can ask them. It was nothing untoward. 

"I just wanted to clarify something. It probably happens every week, you try and get some clarification around certain things.

The NRL confirmed head of elite football Graham Annesley has asked his officials about the incident, however it is unlikely any complaints will be made. 

Panthers fans were up in arms over a second-half try awarded to Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad despite Josh Mansour appearing impeded in the lead-up.   

"Honestly, that's like most other games for us this year. I can't sit here [after] we've lost and have a whinge about it," Cleary said.  

"There were definitely some line-ball, but they're probably in every game.   

"If there's line-ball calls, your captain goes and asks stuff. Come on guys, it's not a big deal. I'm sure if you ask the refs, they would say the same thing."

While the defeat ended a seven-game winning streak, the Panthers remain in seventh spot on 20 points - one ahead of eighth-placed Brisbane.

Newcastle, Cronulla and the Wests Tigers are on 18 points with just six games remaining in the regular season. 

"We've come from the brink of nowhere to get ourselves in the hunt, which we are. If we're good enough, we'll get there," Cleary said.

"We weren't good enough to get the two points today.

"It's all about now making sure we are next week."   

AAP 

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