Nathan Cleary is worth $2 million per season, according to Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns

Nathan Cleary is the NRL’s latest million dollar man – but it still looks like the Penrith Panthers have gotten a bargain.

When the half-prime minister’s contract extension was announced earlier this week, there was virtually no criticism of the deal.

While most contract extensions tend to result in some pushback on the amount paid to the player in question – especially when it’s over $1 million a year – in Cleary’s case, the most agreed it was a good deal for the Panthers.

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‘He could have had so much more elsewhere,’ said Andrew Johns on Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and the eighth.

“It’s selfless.

“Pretty much throughout the club, I think all the players will take less to stick together and have that special bond and win premierships and keep this club strong.

Brad Fittler said given Cleary’s status, not just on the pitch, but as a marketing icon, he was worth way more than he was paid.

“He should be making $2 million a year, no doubt about it,” he said.

“That’s what we have to do for our best players.”

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Cleary is a perfect combination of being a local junior, backbone player, top talent and the right age to make the most money – and with his future resolved he can now focus on his football, where Johns and Fittler believe he will keep him improving.

“I think he will go down as one of the greats,” Fittler said.

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Locking up Cleary has always been the number one priority for Penrith, which has already lost several key contributors since winning the premiership in 2021.

Matt Burton will be joined by Viliame Kikau at the Bulldogs next year, while Kurt Capewell joined the Broncos and Api Koroisau signed with the Wests Tigers from 2023.

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