From more NRL trophies to a Blues jersey, Tago says there’s still work to do

Izack Tago. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Izack Tago has won two premierships, played for his country and, as of Wednesday, signed the biggest deal of his career so far, but as he runs out for game 50 on Friday night, the 21-year-old says he still has plenty more to achieve.

The Panthers centre was all smiles this week after inking a three-year contract extension with his junior club. Tago was already contracted with Penrith for the 2025 season, but he will now remain at the five-time Premiers until at least the end of 2028.

While some of his teammates have decided to jump ship for various reasons, Tago said there was nowhere else he wanted to be.

“To be honest, I already knew this is where I wanted to be. I think anything they (the club) offered me I would’ve been keen to stay,” Tago told the Weekender.

News of his impending re-signing came out of the blue last weekend. With Penrith bosses still in negotiations with Taylan May, Sunia Turuva and Mitch Kenny, it came as a surprise to fans that Tago – who isn’t off contract until next year – was being prioritised.

Tago said the club showing faith in him long-term was huge for him.

“I think that’s probably another reason why the club is so special to me,” he said.

Izack Tago chats with Nathan Taylor. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“It’s always been home for me and to invest in me like that, I want to repay them.”

Panthers supporters will get their first chance to celebrate Tago’s new deal on Friday night when Penrith tackle the Eels in the first Battle of the West of the season.

It’ll be a special occasion for the St Marys junior, who will also play his 50th NRL game on the night. Tago said he’s proud at how far he has come since debuting against the Tigers in 2021.

“This is probably one of the first times that I’ve really looked back on my career – not in terms of performance – but how far I have come and what I’ve done,” he said.

“With the contract this week as well, looking back on that, I’m pretty happy with the things I’ve done so far and there’s more to come.”

More to come indeed.

Having represented Samoa on numerous occasions as well as winning back to back premierships with the Panthers, Tago admits he still has a lot of other things to tick off his NRL Bucket List.

Izack Tago signs his new NRL deal. Photo: Penrith Panthers.

“I’ve already repped Samoa but I’d love to play for NSW at some point. It’s always been a dream of mine as a kid, same thing for Australia,” he said.

“Besides that, my priority is always to win the Grand Final – that’s the most important thing to me, I think it is for all the boys at the club.

That’s why we’ve had such good success because everyone is focused on that, and success comes off the back of that.”

The Panthers will be looking for a touch of that success on Friday night as they look to secure their first victory since the 2023 Grand Final.

After losing the World Club Challenge to Wigan in February and the season opener to the Storm last week, there will be no better comeback story than beating Parramatta at BlueBet Stadium.

Tago said the Eels come to play whenever it’s a local derby, and Penrith will be looking to do the same.

Izack Tago in action. Photo: NRL Images.

“Parra always pick it up against us and that’s something we enjoy too,” he said.

“Being the Battle of the West, we want that crown and they’re going to come try and take it.”

Playing junior footy in the Penrith District growing up, Tago knows the rivalry with the Eels all to well.

“We weren’t trained to hate Parra growing up but, if we won our comp in the juniors, we’d always verse the winner in the Parra comp – like a mini Battle of the West,” Tago said.

“It’s funny because they are probably the most similar team to us in terms of how they are raised culturally, but that’s probably why it’s a bit more of a war.”

Nathan Taylor

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.

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