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Yo, bro, Isaah's worth a go: Cleary's Origin message for Fittler

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary says in-form forward Isaah Yeo is ready to play State of Origin and assured his old teammate, Blues mentor Brad Fittler the rangy lock "won’t let you down" if chosen.

Fittler, on his Wide World of Sports podcast with Andrew Johns - Freddy and the Eighth, said that Yeo was "on the radar" for November’s series with his versatility and consistent, high-quality performances an attraction.

Yeo was one of first-placed Penrith's best in the 22-14 win over the Titans, scoring a try and running for 173 metres.

"He’s played about 130 games now and has actually fixed that middle role. He has played a bit of edge [back-row], started as a centre but this year middle has been his job," Cleary said.

"He won’t let you down and I think with any Origin coach that is the probably first thing they want. He has been one of our best each week and potentially was our best today, so that is all you can do.

Match Highlights: Titans v Panthers

"As an outside back to start with he has got that athletic nature. He is still pretty quick, can do the tough stuff as well and has got a bit of a pass in his game which he has developed."

The Panthers led 10-0 early against the Titans before letting the home side back in the game. With just 968 games between the 17 players that took the field the Panthers were the most inexperienced team in the NRL to take the field in round 11.

"It was possibly the youngest sided I have coached and the most inexperienced and that was the case just before half-time where we were in total control but went into the sheds a little bit rattled," Cleary said.

Panthers: Round 11

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"It was good that we dominated field position and possession in the second half.

"I thought today was always going to be a test of our systems and our culture, whether people could go into certain spots and get things done.

"That was a bit of a test and I think we probably passed that today.

"It certainly wasn’t our best but you take a hooker [Api Koroisau] out, a fullback [Dylan Edwards] out, a strike back-rower [Viliame Kikau] and one centre [Dean Whare] out in one week – and we had a few other guys go before that – then it is not going to work as cleanly as other weeks."

Caleb Aekins slotted back into fullback seamlessly with 171 metres from 21 runs after playing the first five rounds before Dylan Edwards returned for the next five rounds before injuring his hamstring last week.

"Caleb has done exactly what we asked every time," Cleary said.

"Mitch Kenny was another one today, He is not Api Koroisau but we just wanted him to play like Mitch and play 80 minutes after I think he’s only played 20 minutes combined in two games all year.

Josh Mansour scores for Penrith against Gold Coast.
Josh Mansour scores for Penrith against Gold Coast. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

"That is a great effort and he did exactly was we asked. It is nice for young guys to come in and take an opportunity with unlimited preparation and do a job for you."

Cleary said he hoped Kikau would be back next week against Manly and said Whare, Koroisau and Edwards weren’t far away.

"Brian To’o is not too far away and Kurt Capewell not too far after that. It is probably a steady stream over the next two, three or four weeks," he said.

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