Penrith recruit Matt Eisenhuth says he's already felt a level of confidence at the Panthers that he couldn't find during his four-years with Wests Tigers.
The 28-year-old will reunite with Ivan Cleary this season after the Panthers coach walked away from his Wests Tigers contract in 2018, the same year Eisenhuth signed an extension with the joint venture.
The departure of middle forwards James Tamou and Zane Tetevano in the off-season opened the door for Eisenhuth to push for a first-grade spot after he linked with his former club on a two-year deal in October.
"The standard is a lot higher than what I'm used to, to be fair, but it's exciting," Eisenhuth told NRL.com.
"The players are just a bit more confident because they know where they've been and if you're not ready to go you get left behind.
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"It's a different sort of energy level and vibe compared to what I was used to. It's refreshing and sometimes you need a change.
"That's not to say the playing group at the Tigers weren't confident but winning and playing finals footy breeds confidence.
"It's enjoyable to come to training and to be fair it got a bit unlike that at the Tigers towards the end of the season.
"There was a lot going on, a lot of speculation about players. It weighs down on the playing group and it becomes a place you stop enjoying training.
"From the outside looking in last year you could tell they [Panthers] were a team that were enjoying themselves and having fun."
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Cleary labelled Eisenhuth a key member of the Wests Tigers in 2018. Eisenhuth ended up playing 70 games in four seasons for the team in black, white and gold.
"We had a good relationship when we were at the Tigers," Eisenhuth said of Cleary.
"He gave me my debut and you don't forget that so it's good to link back up. There are no new nerves around meeting a new coach or not knowing what they think of you.
"Coming here and knowing what he wants in a footy player and his values definitely makes it a lot easier.
"I knew I was coming to a place that I could fit in and that there was a spot for me to earn."
Eisenhuth's return to the Panthers is a homecoming of sorts.
After beginning his journey in the Parramatta junior system before shifting further west, he battled with injury across four seasons at the club.
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He never got close to an NRL debut before moving to the Wests Tigers, where he's since enjoyed a relatively injury-free journey.
"I was coming off two shoulder reconstructions and then had the tumour in my knee," Eisenhuth said of his first Panthers stint.
"They kept me going at a time it wasn't looking like it was going to go any further.
"It wasn't to be back then but the way the club looked after me when I had injuries, I wanted to come back and repay the club."
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