Penrith co-captain Isaah Yeo will become the most capped Panther of all-time and likely the first Panther ever to reach 300 NRL games by the time his newly inked contract expires at the end of 2027.
Already contracted for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, the two-time Premiership winning lock re-signed with the defending Premiers on Monday morning for an additional three years.
A long-standing Panthers record will likely be eclipsed next season when Yeo surpasses former Penrith skipper Steve Carter’s most games played for the club tally of 243.
With Yeo set to play his 200th NRL game on Friday against the Raiders down in the nation’s capital, he said he’d love to create some history in the coming years too.
“It’s cool because of the history of the club and the players that have played here… I’m just trying to play as many games as I can each season and try and put my best foot forward,” Yeo said.
“I’m locked up until 2027 now and if everything goes to plan, hopefully I’m the first one ever to hit the 300 game mark – that would be pretty cool.
“It’s my goal to stay at the club for as long as I can and be a one club player. If I get the opportunity to do that, that would be awesome.”
A St Johns Dubbo junior, Yeo made his NRL debut against Newcastle in 2014 and won the club’s John Farragher Award for Courage and Determination in 2017.
The 28-year-old has played 199 NRL matches for Penrith, eight Origins for NSW and five Tests for Australia – including the triumphant World Cup Final.
Yeo, the 2022 Dally M Captain of the Year, said it’s been a long and rocky journey to his double century.
“I guess the whole journey hasn’t been smooth sailing, there’s been lots of ups and downs and I guess that’s the part I have enjoyed the most because it’s helped shaped me who I am now,” he said.
“I definitely don’t take moments like this for granted and little periods like this because I know when it’s not so much fun at all. I’m enjoying every second of it right now and I love it out here.”
Even though he’s regarded as one of the world’s best in his position currently, it took Yeo many years to feel comfortable on the footy field after stints at both centre and the backrow. Yeo said he credits two coaches, in particular, for believing in him when his form wasn’t what it is today.
“I’ve been fortunate enough injury-wise and I’ve had the trust of my coaches as well – Ivan when I first came, Anthony Griffin and then Ivan again – I’ve been fortunate enough they’ve both trusted me to play games even when my form might not been so great,” Yeo said.
Yeo said his favourite memories as a Panther so far have been the back-to-back Premierships.
“Nothing beats that,” he said.
“The Premierships will always be at the top of the mountain for me.”
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.