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Josh Mansour's disastrous 2019 season – labelled "rock bottom" by the former Australian international – couldn't have really gone any worse.

One try in 19 appearances, a stint in reserve grade and a nagging shoulder injury that just wouldn't go away.

Mansour is not one to dwell on the past but is using his worst season on record as motivation to bounce back. 

"I want to say very confidently – not arrogantly – that I'll be better than last year," Mansour told

"Last year was rock bottom for me, I didn't have any balance in my life. It got to the point I wasn't even happy. We live the dream here but I was coming into work and struggling to see the light and see the positives.

"I felt like a victim, didn't reach out to anyone and then the toughest conversation I had was when Ivan put me in reserve grade which hurt the ego, but it was needed. I was in a hole but managed to get out of it."

Cleary ready to lead

The recent news of former NBA basketballer Kobe Bryant's death shook Mansour to the core over the weekend and gives him another reason to not take his opportunities for granted. 

The pair never met but the Panthers winger often looked towards Bryant for inspiration.

"Every athlete has an outlet to gain motivation or influence," Mansour said.

"Sometimes you think you're in your own little world so it's good to look at other athletes and learn their struggles and how they got themselves back on track.

"He was arguably one of the most intelligent and competitive athletes in the world. He competed on everything and never got comfortable where he was at.

"That's not easy – he won five rings and to do that you've got to motivate yourself more. It wasn't long ago I was watching a documentary on him – I watched something on him regularly.

"As soon as the news broke it really affected me. Having his daughter on the flight too it just shook me, I felt numb. I couldn't believe it.

"I went and hugged my daughter that morning. It shows how precious life is and that death doesn't discriminate."

Mansour will resume his blossoming combination with Brent Naden on the left edge in 2020 and is wary of the NRL's recent rule change involving mid-air tackles.

At 183 centimetres, the 29-year-old is often done for height the minute he walks onto the paddock and marks his opposite number.

"When you're coming up against someone like Daniel Tupou it's difficult and now you're not able to connect with him," Mansour said.

"I've just got to adjust to it, whether it's timing the tackle or attempting to make a catch. I think a centre will play a big part in helping there.

"We've been practicing a few options at training. I think it will take a bit of time to get used to."

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.