The Lebanon Rugby League Federation has announced the appointment of Ivan Cleary as the new head coach of the national team and he will take charge of the Cedars for the Rugby League World Cup at the end of 2017.
“I was privileged to have been involved in the previous Rugby League World Cup with the New Zealand squad, so to now have the opportunity to be the head coach of a developing nation such as Lebanon is something that I’m really excited about,” said Cleary, the former coach of the New Zealand Warriors and Penrith Panthers.
“The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has worked hard to establish their local competition and I believe that this is an important opportunity to help lift the exposure of the game, particularly at grassroots level.
“With Lebanon qualifying for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, we have a huge opportunity to increase participation numbers and that’s really important for the growth of the international game.”
Cleary added: “From a cultural perspective, the tournament is important for players to either represent their country of birth or their family heritage and the RLWC is a great chance to showcase the great talent that the nation has to offer,” he added.
It will be the second time the Cedars have qualified for the World Cup final stages, having done so in 2000. LRLF CEO, Remond Safi, said the appointment of Cleary sends a clear message about their aspirations heading into the tournament.
“Having Ivan on board is definitely a move in the right direction and it’s an appointment that shows that we are genuine about competing in this year’s World Cup,” Safi noted.
“Having a successful campaign will certainly take the game to another level and lay a pathway for players at international level. Working with them and staff in our local competition in Lebanon, as well as our Australian-based squad members, will be an important part of the role and we believe we have the right man for the job.
“Ivan has a wealth of experience, both as a player and coach, and I believe it will be of great benefit to our players as preparations continue for the World Cup later this year,” he continued.
Lebanon, currently ranked 21 in the world, have been drawn in Pool A in this year’s Rugby League World Cup and will play Australia, England and France during the pool stages, with the top three teams progressing to the Quarter Finals:
Lebanon vs France, 29 October 2017, Canberra Stadium
Lebanon vs England, 5 November 2017, Sydney Football Stadium
Lebanon vs Australia, 11 November 2017, Sydney Football Stadium