Panthers skipper Matt Moylan believes last year's Telstra Premiership finals exit will be the catalyst for the season ahead, and says new recruit James Tamou is the man to take Penrith to the next level.
The arrival of Tamou and Bulldogs recruit Tim Browne add a level of maturity to the squad, which lost Sam McKendry and Josh Mansour (both knee) for an extended period in the off-season.
With many predicting the Panthers will go close to taking out the 2017 title, the 25-year-old laughed off those suggestions but insists his side will be better for last year's run.
"Having such a young squad we obviously didn't have that finals experience and to get guys that have played a couple of games now to back-up this year, hopefully we can get there again," Moylan told NRL.com
"I think it's going to add experience and confidence to the group.
"It's already seemed that way throughout pre-season but it will take a lot of hard work and effort to get back there.
"We're under no illusions about what it's going to take."
The addition of Tamou from the Cowboys has already proved a hit, with the Australian prop forward turning heads at the recent Auckland Nines tournament.
Despite his skill on field, the leadership Tamou is providing off the park is of most value and Moylan is excited to run out alongside him for the first time in this weekend's clash against the Dragons at Oki Jubilee on Saturday afternoon.
"The aura he's brought to the club is definitely going to help," Moylan said.
"He's trained really hard and his overall experience has really helped the younger front-rowers come on and that’s shown throughout the trials and Auckland Nines with guys getting opportunities over there.
"The way he talks on the training paddock and gets the attention of the younger boys is going to be valuable for us.
"He's keen to get back to his best and we are fortunate to have him here."
The St Clair junior enjoyed his first year leading the Panthers after being appointed skipper last season, and received plenty of support along the way both on and off field.
"It was probably a role that took time to get used to, and I'm still learning now and trying to improve," Moylan said.
"I had a fair bit of help around the club with guys like Gus (Phil Gould) and Hook (Anthony Griffin) and some experienced players like Wal (Peter Wallace) and Mez (Trent Merrin) that helped with that.
"Especially Wal, he took a lot of pressure off and they're pretty vocal as well so it's not all on myself doing all the talking, which is good."
This article first appeared on NRL.com.