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Arthur and Cleary – they're the two surnames set to rewrite the NRL history books in Sunday night’s Grand Final showdown.

Jacob Arthur and Nathan Cleary might be worlds apart in terms of experience and their father's Ivan and Brad also have their fair share of differences, but the two families are set to combine for a noteworthy piece of history come Sunday when they become the first father-and-son duo to go head-to-head in an NRL Grand Final.

After a year filled with tough decisions in guiding the Eels to the verge of their Premiership since 1986, Brad Arthur knows one of the toughest decisions in his nine years at the helm was the dilemma he wrestled with around selecting his son Jake on the bench for the title decider.

Arthur revealed that it was Ivan Cleary who he turned to for advice last year when faced with the “unique” situation of coaching his then rookie son in the pressure-cooker of the NRL.

Perfect Pairs: The Arthurs

“It was a tough decision to introduce my son into the team but I just thought I’d reach out to Ivan and he was great, he gave me a bit of advice around it,” Arthur told the media ahead of Sunday’s grand final.

“He’s been there before in terms of coaching his son. And to be fair to both of these guys (Nathan and Ivan) they were excellent and helped me.

“It’s unique. No one will ever know the experience until they actually do it.

“Everyone can say they feel it but until you actually do it, you don’t know and why wouldn’t I try and reach out to get a bit of advice.”

With the Cleary's preparing for his third consecutive Grand Final, Nathan said their success as a partnership was something he hadn't quite reflected fully on.

Nathan and Ivan Cleary celebrating after winning the 2021 Grand Final.
Nathan and Ivan Cleary celebrating after winning the 2021 Grand Final. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

“It’s become the norm now, it’s probably not something that you really think about until after the year’s done and you sort of reflect," Cleary said.

“When it’s all said and done and we’re both retired we can both reflect on what it was but at the moment, it’s just the job.

“I’m very grateful that I’m in this position, as Brad touched on, it’s unique and I’m just very grateful.”

For coach Cleary, Sunday will mark his third consecutive year in charge of his son, but the former Panthers' fullback said coaching Nathan is "still extremely special" today.

"There are so many things that are cool about playing in a grand final," Ivan Cleary said. 

"Coaching Nathan goes with it. And just because we’ve done it three times, it doesn’t make it any less special.

"It’s probably something I don’t really think about much anymore but I enjoy every day doing it with him."

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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