The Panthers secured their third minor premiership in four years with a win over the Cowboys on Saturday night, securing a Penrith return for former assistant Andrew Webster.
The Warriors are set to travel to the foot of the mountains in the first week of the finals after an impressive season to finish fourth.
Penrith’s win also dumped North Queensland out of the top eight and Cleary delivered a huge warning to his former coaching staff member.
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“Great performance by Webby and the Warriors, it’s fantastic,” Cleary said.
“It’s great for the game, but yeah we aren’t going to be friends next week so just blessed that we are in the top four and in the finals.
“Worked extremely hard to get here and the old saying, it’s a new competition.”
The Panthers will be awarded $200,000 for finishing first after the regular season and could wear their home jersey should they reach the grand final.
Penrith also got the job done without Mitch Kenny and Scott Sorensen who are due to return next week, while Jarome Luai could be fit to play in the preliminary finals after a shoulder blow.
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Crichton airborne as Panthers land MP | 00:29
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Cleary also praised his side’s consistency over the last four seasons and the Panthers charge towards a potential third-straight premiership.
“Really pleasing, it’s a great night for everyone,” Cleary said.
“Four years in a row where we are first or equal first at the end of the season, so I’m really proud of that.
“Consistency is such a big part of being successful and I think we’ve shown that for a long period of time and I’m really proud of that.
“We’ve done it three different ways the last few years and you couldn’t say any one of them was the best, it’s just the way we went this time.”