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In for the long haul: why Yeo stayed loyal to Penrith

True Blue Isaah Yeo says the Penrith Panthers have the squad to keep bringing the club great success, but he’s not looking further than a possible three-peat this season.

Yeo, 28, who will play his 200th NRL game when the Panthers face Canberra at GIO Stadium on Friday night, signed a three-year extension which will keep him at the club until the end of 2027.

The fact he will be with the club long-term alongside fellow Westpac NSW Blues stars Nathan Cleary, Brian To’o and Kiwi international James Fisher-Harris gives cause to the belief the Panthers could win another two or three premierships.

After securing the NRL Telstra Premiership in 2021-22, the campaign for 2023 has had a stuttering start – one win, two losses.

Yeo firmly believes a three-peat is possible – but he won’t commit any further.

“We’re a strong squad… obviously not the results we’d like (so far in 2023),” he said.

“All I know is we’re trying really hard and we’re tinkering with things.

“I’m not sure about anything with the future – all we’re worried about is the premiership for this season and we’re really hunting after that.

“We’ve got a few things to fix and get in order but we’re all in on this season.”

As for not wishing to put himself on the market at the end of next year, Yeo said he was settled at the Panthers.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot at the moment with my career,” Yeo said.

“We’ve got the squad here and the foundations to have success over a long period of time and why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that?

“Certainly, the club has helped me evolve as a player.

“I certainly wasn’t getting accolades or playing in rep games at the start of my career. I had to work really hard to get where I am at the moment.

“I had to transition (from different positions) to being a ball-playing lock. That’s been my evolution as a player and the club has been a big part of that.”

Yeo made his NRL debut at centre in 2014 but did not get his NSW Origin call-up until 2020 or an Australian Kangaroos berth until 2022.

Yeo alternated between centre and back row for the Panthers throughout 2015 before making second row his home in 2016-17-18. Midway through 2019 he moved to lock and has never looked back.

He was named Dally M Lock of the Year in 2020 and 2021 and collected two NRL premierships.

For the Westpac NSW Blues he has played six of his eight games as starting lock. His first two games were off the bench when Jake Trbojevic was No.13.

Yeo will become the ninth Panthers player to reach 200 first grade games for the club.

From the other eight players, seven are also True Blues: Steve Carter, Craig Gower, Royce Simmons, Greg Alexander, Luke Lewis, Ryan Girdler and Brad Izzard. The eighth was Kiwi international Tony Puletua.

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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