When it comes to rising stars in our game, many Panthers fans predicted the likes of Bryce Cartwright, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak and George Jennings to be among the first selected to debut for the club this year.
However, fans and rugby league experts were left in shock when during the opening game of the season a tall, lanky kid from country NSW stepped out onto Sportingbet Stadium to become the first, in a long line of talented yougsters, to get a crack at the big time.
His name? Isaah Yeo.
Since that faithful day in March when 19-year-old Yeo replaced an injured Jamal Idris in the centres, he’s gone on to play six NRL games with a perfect winning record to boot. In-fact even when Yeo was dropped back to NSW Cup to continue developing, he still didn’t lose a game.
“I haven’t had a loss in NSW Cup or first grade this year, so I’m loving life at the moment,” Penrith’s good luck charm told Extra Time.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d be playing first grade at all this year. I thought I’d play Under 20’s all year with a handful of NSW Cup games, so it came as a real shock.”
The Dubbo-born and bred product recalls coach Ivan Cleary not giving too much away when he was told the reasoning behind his shock NRL selection.
“He just said he was happy with my work ethic during the pre-season and the year before that in the 20’s. I think that helped me a fair bit being picked,” Yeo said.
“At the moment I’m feeling good. I think when the boys are so close it really helps with us younger kids like myself, Dallin and Bryce making the step up.”
While Yeo admits he’s still finding his feet in the NRL especially dealing with the speed and physicality of it all, he is doing everything he can to learn from his experienced teammates to make his transition a little easier.
“I’m a really big fan of Elijah Taylor’s work ethic… I’m not much of a flashy player so I try and do what he does by making lots of tackles and hit-ups,” he said.
“Jamie Soward, on the edge, also helps out with his talk and communication. I hope to continue improving.”