NSW Origin stars Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo will share the Penrith captaincy as Ivan Cleary manages a youthful Penrith outfit that has farewelled more than 700 games of experience over the summer.
Cleary, 23, is the youngest captain of those confirmed by NRL clubs for 2021, and on Tuesday announced as co-captain alongside Yeo, 26, after James Tamou's move to Wests Tigers.
Tamou's exit takes 267 NRL appearances, 12 Kangaroos Tests and 14 Origins worth of experience with him, with veterans Josh Mansour (158 NRL games), Dean Whare (155) and Zane Tetevano (122) also following him out the door.
The quartet's exit is part of the price Penrith are paying to keep a rare crop of local junior talent together, with Yeo, five-eighth Jarome Luai and centre Stephen Crichton all expected to re-sign before the start of the season.
Now with the Panthers' generation next taking them all the way to last year's grand final the club has reshaped the other end of its roster.
Whare's release to Catalans on Monday leaves Kurt Capewell and Api Koroisau as the oldest players in Penrith's top 30 at the age of 27.
It's a scenario Cleary senior is acutely aware of, and played a part in Yeo and his son Nathan sharing the leadership role in 2021.
"We've got a situation where a lot of senior players have left now," Ivan said.
"There's not a big senior hierarchy. So what we've got, what I've seen this year already is a lot of leadership coming from below.
"A lot of these guys have played together for quite a while and although they're young, their leadership, they're feeling more comfortable doing that.
"Both of them are first-time captains, they're both similar in that they've got similar awareness, and they've got quite strong emotional intelligence.
"So they're not the type to tread on someone's toes. And since we started [pre-season] training, without telling them they've basically taken over [as captains] anyway. It's been good to watch.
"They've formed a partnership organically. And I think the amount of work and responsibility around being an NRL captain these days, I think that will help if they can share that burden."
While Penrith's departing players ranked as the most experienced in the club last year, the club has largely recruited journeymen in Matt Eisenhuth, Rob Jennings, Scott Sorensen, Paul Momirovski and Jaeman Salmon for 2021.
Cleary meanwhile is following in the footsteps of former Panthers great Craig Gower, whose pre-season pep talk was credited as a driving force in last year's run to the minor premiership and NRL decider.
Gower was also just 23 when he was crowned Penrith captain in 2002.
His first 14 games in charge all resulted in defeats and calls for him to step down as skipper, only for Gower to lead the club to a fairytale 2003 premiership within 18 months.
The Panthers' 2020 season review
Cleary had "goosebumps" when his father announced his co-captaincy alongside Yeo in a team meeting, catching both by surprise as it hadn't been discussed beforehand.
The Blues halfback brought up his 100th NRL appearance in last year's grand final loss and hopes to emulate Tamou's strong leadership throughout Penrith's 2020 campaign.
"Jimmy Tamou was amazing the last two years, I think he really grew into the role," Nathan Cleary said.
"It was probably something he wasn't expecting coming down to Penrith, but as soon as he was named captain, I couldn't ask for a better leader and I think the way he's respected by everyone, I look up to that.
"It's something I aspire to be eventually. I think Jimmy, he's not a grand speaker, he doesn't have the loudest voice in the room.
"But once he speaks everyone turns and listens. That's something I want to be like."
Yeo is now the club's most capped and longest serving player with 148 NRL games since arriving as a schoolboy Dubbo.
"As someone who came to the club as a 17-year-old and worked my way through the grades, to find myself in this (captaincy) position now is something my family and I are very proud of," he said.
"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.
"We're both going to have grow at this role, it's our first time at it.
"It's exciting and we'll both be learning on the run a little bit but we've got a really good leadership group around us and I know we'll do it to the absolute best of our ability."
Panthers in 2021
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