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Dylan Edwards has returned to Panthers pre-season training in a mood to smash fitness testing and lead the way for the rest of the youthful squad Ivan Cleary has assembled for 2020.

It's nothing new for 23-year-old Edwards, who has always excelled throughout the summer conditioning programs to be one of the fittest players at the club.

"I don't mind this stuff, I'm not as big as the other boys so it suits me a little bit," Edwards said.

"I do a bit of work [in the off-season] but nothing major, you've got to let your body recover.

"There's a couple of young boys that are chasing us down which makes it tough. You've got to perform at your best otherwise someone will take your spot."

Five key match-ups of the Panthers' 2020 draw

With 45 games now under his belt, Edwards will be called upon to play more of a leadership role in 2020 with a number of senior players departing the club.   

He'll be hoping for a more settled start to the campaign than he endured in 2019, when Penrith's lewd video controversy surfaced in early March and he was falsely accused by members of the public of being involved in the scandal that rocked the club.

Edwards's on-field performances suffered and he was dropped by Cleary in round six.

He returned in round 10 to help the Panthers go on a seven-game winning streak which included wins over eventual premiers the Roosters as well as top-eight sides Manly, Souths and Parramatta.

Mansour back in black

"I've had some time to reflect and came to the conclusion that hopefully I've become a better footballer and person because of it," Edwards said.

"It was obviously a tough year in patches and as a team we didn't perform the way we wanted. I just want to get better, that's probably everyone's goal."

Meanwhile, the Panthers have welcomed new assistant coach Trent Barrett to the club with captain James Tamou tipping rookie five-eighth Jarome Luai to be one of the main beneficiaries.

Luai is expected to fill the void left by James Maloney's move to Super League.

"At the [NSW] Blues, Trent was very good. I felt like I could lean on him and it's the same feeling I get now," Tamou said.

"He's made an immediate impact on the young boys just the way he carries himself.

"You know you have to listen. He's been around the game so long and coached around. It will only be beneficial for us."

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour 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.