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No longer winging it, Yeo sets sights on  forwards battle with Maroons

When Isaah Yeo last stepped onto the field for a representative game, his selection for NSW Country had everyone talking – and not for the right reasons.  

Yeo was picked in the unfamiliar wing position in a selection that led to many questioning the integrity of the 2016 City-Country fixture after several players withdrew from both sides in the lead-up to the match.

But for Yeo, a proud country boy from Dubbo, it was a dream come true and he was willing to play anywhere.

His Country coach at the time was now Blues assistant Craig Fitzgibbon, and the City coach was present-day NSW mentor Brad Fittler.

"Andy Ryan mentioned I'd played wing for Dubbo CYMS first grade and we were low on numbers," Yeo said.

"We had so many Penrith players [for both sides]. I was only going as 18th man and ended up on the wing.

"I'm no good under the high ball so I was pretty nervous that day.

"I was more nervous in the Country game than what I am now. I didn't drop any bombs but I don't think I was great to be fair and we got beat.

"It's been a while, I haven't had any rep footy since then. I'm glad I don't have to finish [my rep career] as a winger."

At least he hopes so.

Isaah Yeo playing for Country in 2016.
Isaah Yeo playing for Country in 2016. ©NRL Photos

Yeo will be looking to avoid a switch to the wing or centres ahead of pulling on the sky-blue jersey for the first time on Wednesday night after finding a home in the middle at the Panthers this year.

But if injury does strike, the latest Blues debutant is equipped to handle any situation.

"This is the first year I've been able to nail down lock and try to develop my game," Yeo said.

"Trent [Barrett] and Ivan [Cleary] did a great job with me there and give me the confidence ahead of this opportunity.

"It's obviously exciting … growing up as a kid you want to play State of Origin. Once you play in the NRL you just want to do well for your club and if you're good enough you reap the rewards from that.

"I think as a team at Penrith we've played well and that boosted everyone else's performances and chances to be in contention.

"It's been an exciting year, obviously not the way to finish with the grand final but to go from one bubble to the next and be in a State of Origin squad it's unreal."

A spectator in Adelaide for the Origin I loss, Yeo said both sides would learn lessons from that game.

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"I thought Queensland did a really good job in kicking to corners and making us come off our try line, particularly in the second half," he said.

"There were moments where the ball was in play, we call it a cycle, where it was just back and forth and that's still above NRL standard so it was a tough grind.

"I don't think either team got a real handle on the game early. Queensland were the first team to do it in the second half and they were able to capitalise."


Game two tickets start from $45 for members and $49 for general public or get your wig and experience the Blatchy’s effect from $85 for members or $90 for the general public

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.