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Their first game as an edge combination in the NRL finished with five tries between them but Izack Tago and Taylan May's combination developed more off the paddock last year.

Tago and May made it all look too easy against Newcastle in their maiden NRL game together last weekend in a partnership Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said blossomed while the pair were part of the squad on the Sunshine Coast last year.

Tago (six games) and May (1 game) hardly featured for the premiers throughout the successful 2021 season but behind the scenes were learning about the rigours of the NRL while bonding without family or loved ones around.

"We went to high school together and have always been close but then staying and living together we were around each other a lot so grew pretty close," Tago told

"We were in the bubble so would do whatever we could within the restrictions. We were the only two without family for a while. Tiny had Tyrone there but then not playing any footy we trained a lot together.

Taylan May scores his first NRL try

"I think it definitely helped us out on the field in Bathurst. For Tiny (May) to get three tries, it’s pretty good for his second game in, I’m really happy for him. We've been on the same edge for a while now in different grades."

The Panthers left edge will look awfully different to the one that helped the club to their third premiership last October with premiership hero Brian To'o still out injured and Matt Burton's departure to Canterbury. 

Tago stays alive to score

Only nine players who were part of Penrith's run-on side in last year's decider will run out against South Sydney on Friday night.

For Tago, who was on the bench watching on at Suncorp Stadium last year, the buzz and excitement of a grand final rematch had him primed to put in a strong performance.

"I was about 20 metres away from when Critta [Stephen Crichton] took that intercept and it was crazy, all the boys were going off, the whole stadium was," Tago said.

"I’ve said it plenty of times how unreal it was and just to feel part of it with all the other boys who didn’t play.

"They're going to be out to get us back for last year so I’ll do whatever I can."

Tago said with the return of Nathan Cleary on the right edge, he expected the left edge to begin to flow more with more games played alongside Jarome Luai and Viliame Kikau.

"It’s starting to get better, it’s our first year playing together so I feel like we’re growing our chemistry," he said.

"Kiks gets it going for us on that edge, he helps us out and we feed off the back of that heaps."

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.