A lack of experience can no longer be an excuse for the Penrith Panthers.
That's the feeling of Dubbo product Isaah Yeo heading into his first game of the 2019 NRL season.
Yeo and his Panthers have been finals regulars in recent seasons but have been bundled out of the title race in the second week of the post-season for the past three years.
With a number of young players in the side, Yeo being one of those, a lot of the failings were put down to a lack of finals experience.
But Yeo said that is no longer the case, as his side heads into another year of high expectations.
"The last few years we've been labelled as contenders and then we've fallen short," he said ahead of Sunday's clash with Parramatta.
"The excuse of a lack of experience would always be given … but that's not an excuse and we understand that.
"There's guys now who have 50, 60, or 70 games under the belt. We've got a confident group and we know on our day we're capable of beating anyone."
Yeo, now 24 and with 108 NRL games to his name, is part of the young core group who have developed into regular and vital figures for the Panthers.
The St John's junior is also part of a six-man leadership group at Penrith this season.
The fact so many of the Panthers are of a similar age and have come through the grades together makes them a close-knit unit, something that Yeo said is hugely beneficial on the field.
"You hold yourself more accountable when it's your mates," he said.
"You're more willing to have those tough conversations because you are so close and comfortable with each other."
While the Panthers head into the new season as one of the competition favourites, it hasn't been all smooth sailing in recent months.
The club came under plenty of scrutiny for luring coach Ivan Cleary back from the Wests Tigers while in recent weeks a number of Panthers players have been embroiled in a sex tape scandal.
I'd like to see us defend well and put in that effort for 80 minutes.Isaah Yeo on Sunday's opening round fixture
Yeo said he's aware there's been a lot of outside talk about his club for the entire off-season but he said all it's done has galvanised the playing group.
"It's not ideal … but it's understandable and we're a club built on unity," he said.
The season for Yeo and his side starts at home to Parramatta on Sunday is a battle of the west.
Yeo will again feature in the back-row, part of a strong forward pack which includes the likes of James Tamou, Regan Campbell-Gillard, and James Fisher-Harris.
"Obviously you want a nice, 80 minute performance," Yeo said, looking forward to the game.
"It won't be perfect, it never is at this time of the year, and there will be a bit more dropped ball but I'd like to see us defend well and put in that effort for 80 minutes regardless of the score.
"Obviously you'd like to start with a win but it's only round one."
Kick-off is at 4.05pm on Sunday.