Yeo: Favourites tag didn't sit well

23 December 2017 21:31:26 GMTPlus10

Isaah Yeo concedes the Panthers struggled under the weight of expectation last season.

Penrith were seen by some as favourites going into the 2017 campaign, but then lost seven of their first nine games.

Eventually they recovered to finish seventh on the ladder, thanks in large part to a seven-game winning streak.

But after an elimination final win against the Sea Eagles, their season ended when they lost 13-6 to Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium in the semi-finals.

Back-rower Yeo says with hindsight it would have been better if Penrith hadn't been latched onto as favourites during pre-season.

This time around Anthony Griffin's side will have less pressure as the likes of the Roosters, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Cowboys are seen as the top contenders for the premiership.

"Looking back now we didn't handle the pressure of being favourites but I guess it would be fair to say it doesn't sit well with many sides when that tag is handed to them," said Yeo. "It certainly wasn't something we saw ourselves as.

"There was nothing we did wrong during pre-season under 'Hook' (Griffin) last season and we prepared well but the slow start immediately put us under pressure. We were playing catch-up footy from around the middle of the season; I thought we did well to recover but overall we learnt a lot from the year."

Yeo's been earmarked as a captaincy candidate following Matt Moylan's departure and Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould believes representative football isn't too far away for the 23-year-old.

"I still feel I've got a lot of improvement left in me as a player and leader; [captaincy] is not something I've thought about a lot," said Yeo.

"If I was asked to lead the side I would be honoured but we've also got a lot of senior guys like Peter Wallace, Trent Merrin and James Tamou who could too."

Penrith are 7.50 to win the 2018 Grand Final. The Panthers are 1.01 to finish in the top eight.

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