Eels five-eighth Dylan Brown joked he was going to take Nathan Cleary’s head off in Friday night’s finals match as the Panthers star gets set to make a return from a four-match suspension.
Brown saw the humour in playing Cleary again first-up after the Eels locked in fourth spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder to book a showdown with the defending premiers at BlueBet Stadium for a spot in the preliminary final.
Cleary’s return from a lengthy ban for a dangerous tackle on Brown was welcomed by the Eels five-eighth after the pair cleared the air over the incident in Round 20.
After being sent off in the match for lifting Brown in a dangerous position, Cleary reached out to the Kiwi international before copping his punishment. He will return on Friday night fresh and ready to mark Brown on the right edge.
“We haven’t spoken much, we don’t speak on the regular but he did apologise after the game at the time,” Brown said.
“I’m gonna take his head off. Nah, I’m joking. I saw the video after and he was hitting his head saying ‘that was dumb’. It was dumb but he understood that.
“It was just heat of the moment sort of thing. There’s no beef there or anything.
“If anything, it’s good to have him back playing because you want to play a good quality side with him and Luai back next week it’s going to be fun and a good challenge for us.”
Brown made no apologies for declaring Penrith were the team he wanted to make life difficult for in the finals by forcing them to play again in week two by beating them for a third time this season.
The Panthers opted to rest their starting side against the Cowboys, a luxury few sides are afforded at this time of the season.
“I understand that tactic, we did that last year. They are obviously minor premiers and can rest as much as they can,” Brown said.