Dubbo product Isaah Yeo had a barnstorming year in the second row for Penrith in 2017, but he’s well aware of the club’s depth in the position, and knows how well he’ll have to perform to keep playing there.
Put it to the 23-year-old how well he did to cement the “11” jersey last year and the 195cm, 106kg wrecking ball quickly reminds that it’s not that simple at the foot of the mountains.
“It’s somewhere we’re really strong at this club, the back row,” Yeo tells Inside Sport following an early-morning pre-season training hit out. “For example we have Bill Kikau coming through; he had an outstanding World Cup campaign. Then you’ve got James Fisher-Harris, a New Zealand international, and then Corey Harawira-Naera, who I think will be an international as well - he had a great year last year.
“We’re constantly fighting for positions. That’s what’s so good about this club; the way it’s able to develop players and keep that constant stream of talent coming through.
“At the moment I am just trying to cement that spot again this year. I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Yeo has clocked up 82 games in the NRL since debuting for the Panthers in their opening round match of the 2014 season against Newcastle. Thanks to his size and speed and passing game, he was used as both a centre and backrower. During Penrith’s horror 2016 injury run, the Panthers needed blokes in the back row. They played Yeo there alongside Trent Merrin in round 14 that season and he hasn’t started anywhere else since.