Rugby League

Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo a “natural” fit as Penrith co-captains for the 2021 NRL season

The Penrith Panthers have announced a two-pronged captaincy approach for the 2021 season, with Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo named co-captains.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary declared the pair were the logical fit to replace Wests Tigers bound former skipper James Tamou.

Cleary revealed he knew his son Nathan and Yeo were the men for the job after seeing them seamlessly steer their Panthers teammates around during pre-season training.

“When I watched Isaah and Nathan during the first few weeks of this pre-season, they were organically leading those around them,” Cleary said.

“It was immediately apparent what was best for our team. It felt like those two had already been appointed. It was just that natural.

“As first-time captains, I think it’s beneficial they can share the burden of extra responsibilities that come with the role.

“Of course neither of them are the finished product but this opportunity will allow them to continue growing as leaders. I know they will do an excellent job for our club.”

OFFICIAL. Isaah Yeo and Nathan Cleary appointed co-captains of the Panthers for 2021. Congrats! 🙌🏽

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With 148 NRL games under his belt, 26-year-old Yeo is Penrith’s most experienced campaigner while 23-year-old Cleary has grown into leadership as the team’s halfback for the last five years.

Yeo may be unassuming in the media space, but his strong actions on the field will ensure he handles the captaincy position with ease.

The Dubbo junior, who was a member of the premiership-winning Panthers NYC side in 2013, feels honoured to lead the proud club.

“As someone who came to the club as a 17-year-old and worked my way through the grades, to find myself in this position now is something my family and I are very proud of,” said Yeo, who has a chance to lead Penrith out as captain in his hometown of Dubbo this season when the Panthers take on South Sydney at Apex Oval on May 23.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be appointed to this role alongside Nathan. I think we’ve both grown a lot as footballers and leaders over the past couple of years.

“As a captain of this proud club I want to be leading by example, on and off the field, and I’ll be doing that to the best of my ability.”

Cleary is also ready to take on greater responsibility at the Panthers as he enters his sixth NRL season.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to lead this club with my good mate Yeoy (Isaah Yeo),” said Cleary, who made his NRL debut at Panthers in 2016 and marked his 100th game milestone in the 2020 NRL Grand Final.

“When you look at the past greats who have captained at Panthers, it’s quite overwhelming to think about being in that same position. It’s an immense honour.

“I’ve learned a lot about leadership over the last few years. This is just another step in that journey, and I’ll be doing everything I can to help our club achieve success this season.”

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