After what he admits has been an “up and down” four years at the foot of the Mountains, outgoing Panthers captain James Tamou would love nothing more than the dream send-off.
While the 31-year-old’s career will kick on for another couple of years at the Wests Tigers, the inspirational skipper would love to leave Penrith with his own farewell gift… the Provan-Summons Trophy.
“I try not to think about it because I don’t want to get too emotional but what a way to go out,” Tamou told the Weekender.
“Since arriving at Penrith I’ve learned what this club means to the community. When it’s all said and done it’s going to be a sad moment for me but hopefully, we’ll be celebrating with a Premiership.”
Having won a Grand Final in 2015 with Johnathan Thurston’s North Queensland Cowboys, Tamou said winning a title with Penrith – as their captain – would be up there as a career highlight.
If Tamou hoists the trophy this Sunday night, he’ll be just the third Panthers skipper behind Craig Gower and Greg Alexander to do so.
“I don’t think I could ever compare the two Premierships if we win, but in 2015 I was playing under some pretty good leaders at the Cowboys, but now I’m the leader, I’m the captain, I’m the oldest bloke in the team – there’s a lot of emotions in that alone,” he said.
With Tamou one of three current Penrith players to taste Premiership success, he’ll be using his experience this week to help steer his troops to Grand Final glory.
Tamou said pacing yourself and leaving it all on the line when it counts will be his two key messages.
“You don’t want to play the game too early – you don’t want to get too hot – you want to save your energy for later in the game,” he said.
“Also, when you are out on the field, I’ll be telling them to let it all out – this is it, this is the last one. We’ve come this far, you might as well keep going. Leave nothing in the tank.”
While 14 Panthers players will experience the grandest stage for the first time this weekend, their opponents, Melbourne, have been to four of the past five deciders and clearly hold the experience card in their hands.
Tamou said if his side can get their execution right against the Storm and bring the best out of each other, then Penrith will be partying long into the night.
“I can’t wait to lead these boys, it’s going to very special,” he said.
“Melbourne are a scary prospect – they are quick and they execute so well – but we’ll do our homework this week and we’ll do our best.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.