Panthers close to NRL heavyweights: Yeo

With a dash of improvement, Penrith can be spoken about in the same sentence as Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters, insists their stalwart forward Isaah Yeo.

Penrith are dining at the top table on the NRL standings but forward Isaah Yeo still rates his team a rung below competition heavyweights Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters.

The red-hot Panthers have left a troubled 2019 behind them and catapulted further into the premiership conversation following last week's Nathan Cleary-inspired 20-12 defeat of South Sydney.

They sit a point behind the competition-leading Eels, the only team to beat them this year, and one ahead of the imposing Roosters in third.

Yeo isn't convinced his side quite belong in that company yet. But they're close.

"We're still a young side but very confident and it's probably showing at the moment in the way we play. It's been a fun start," he said on Tuesday.

"But we've got still things we're working towards, while the Roosters and the Eels, their game the other week - they probably showed they're one and two at the moment."

It's a far cry from last year when Ivan Cleary's team lost eight of their first 10 games and missed the finals for the first time in four seasons.

Yeo said coach Cleary addressed their shortcomings in raw fashion before last season even came to a close and the team haven't looked back.

He believes they have depth in every position, pointing to the emergence of brilliant young outside backs Stephen Crichton, Brian To'o and Brent Naden, who were all unheralded rookies last year.

Nathan Cleary's cellulitis condition on his face has cleared and Penrith will hope the halfback is just as influential in Saturday's match against the sixth-placed Wests Tigers.

Back-to-back inspirational performances was well within him said Yeo, who has followed the young star's progress since they first became teammates in 2016.

"I've seen (improvement) every day he's been in first grade," he said.

"It's not really a surprise to us. Nathan was always going to step into that leadership role comfortably and he's showing that at the moment."


AAP