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'He's well-respected' - Panthers coach praises James Tamou's leadership

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary admits always wanting someone to emerge from the six- man leadership group he selected in the NRL pre-season.

And after just five games, Cleary said James Tamou was the obvious choice.

Tamou was appointed to the role on Tuesday ahead of James Maloney, Isaah Yeo, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Josh Mansour and Nathan Cleary.

"He's come through and grown in that group," coach Cleary said in the lead-up to Thursday's round-six clash with Cronulla.

"He's effectively risen above and almost selected himself.

"He's well-respected, he's consistent, he's a family man with great values, he's playing well.

"He's respected by everyone and I think that role will actually help him personally as well. He's the man to do it."

Widely tipped to challenge for the premiership this season, Penrith have disappointed with just two unconvincing wins from five games.

They gave Gold Coast their maiden win of the year last week, however, Cleary denied their poor form prompted him into finding a solitary voice.

"That wasn't the plan. Effectively, it was a group of leaders and it was an evolution thing, really. It got to a point where James has come through that," he said.

"I think right now, it's good for the team and he's the man to now lead us with the support of that group.

"When you put these sorts of groups together, the ideal thing would be to have someone actually rise in that group and that's what happened."

The 30-year-old Tamou takes the reins in the third season of a four-year deal with the Panther, after he joined them from North Queensland at the end of 2016.

He has represented NSW in State of Origin on 14 occasions and played in 12 Test matches for the Kangaroos.

"He was pretty humbled and that's the sort of guy he is. And the rest of the group were right behind him, which is even better," Cleary said.

James Tamou of the Panthers. Penrith Panthers v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. NRL Auckland Nines Rugby League. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Saturday 4 February 2017. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
James Tamou of the Panthers v the Bulldogs at the Nines today. Source: Photosport


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