Yeo emerges as potential Panthers skipper

Isaah Yeo has earned a reputation among the Penrith hierarchy as a long-term leader.He might not be considered a superstar but no-frills back-rower Isaah Yeo has emerged as a surprise contender to skipper Penrith next year.
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Ivan Cleary has yet to announce his leadership group for the 2019 NRL season and James Maloney isn’t assured of retaining the job as the Panthers’ new coach gets set to put his own mark on the side.

Maloney’s future at the club is up in the air. While contracted for another two seasons, he continues to be linked to a move to the English Super League in 2020.

And after 108 NRL games, Yeo has earned a reputation among the Penrith hierarchy as a long-term leader and is highly regarded by Cleary.

He captained the side against the Warriors in Maloney’s absence during the representative period this year.

And the 24-year-old is now in the running to lead the side next year along with Maloney and New Zealand Test skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

Cleary handed Yeo his debut in his first stint as Panthers coach in round one in 2014 and after returning to Sydney’s west a month-and-a-half ago, he said he couldn’t have been more impressed with the Dubbo product.

“Isaah definitely has leadership potential and he is one guy that has noticeably matured in my eyes since I’ve come back,” Cleary said.

“He debuted as a fresh-faced 20-year-old and I always thought he had the potential to be a good leader. And he’s really growing in that mould.”

Cleary admitted he was take aback when Michael Maguire handed Watene-Zelezniak the Kiwis’ Test captaincy but said he was a candidate to skipper his club.

“That was probably a little bit of a shock (the Kiwis captaincy) but he loved it,” Cleary said.

“Without being there and seeing how he went. He’s another guy who was really matured.”

Cleary did, however, rule out the prospect of his son and halfback Nathan taking over the captaincy, saying the 21-year-old wasn’t ready for the job.

“If the day comes when he should be the captain then he should be,” Cleary said.

“I don’t think it’s at that point yet.

“There’s going to be some things in our relationship we don’t know exactly how it’s going to pan out but we’ll just deal with it.

“I believe he’s got leadership potential, for sure, but it’ll be down the track somewhere.”

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