Isaah Yeo has had the type of week most athletes could only dream of.
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After co-captaining the Penrith Panthers to an historic third straight NRL premiership on Sunday night, the St John's junior was named in the Australian squad for the Pacific Championships on Monday, before collecting the prestigious Merv Cartwright Medal at his club's awards night on Wednesday.
The accolades cement his status as one of the greats of the game and one of the finest athletes to come out of the Dubbo region.
The 28-year-old Yeo was immense again for Penrith this season and also played three Origin matches for the NSW Blues.
He averaged 111 metres and 35 tackles each week for the Panthers while, in a sign his game is still improving, Yeo achieved a career-high 55 tackle busts during his side's run to premiership glory.
Those performances helped him edge out teammates Dylan Edwards and Nathan Cleary for the Merv Cartwright Medal, which is awarded to the club's player of the year.
"It means an awful lot," Yeo said after collecting the prize
"You never take it for granted. It's been really special these last few years."
Like his teammates, Yeo was still on a high after Penrith's stunning grand final win over Brisbane on Sunday.
Down 16 points with 24 minutes remaining - and with Yeo off the field due to a head knock - the Panthers stormed home on the back of an incredible showing from Clive Churcill Medallist Nathan Cleary and won 26-24.
"It's unbelievable," Yeo said after the victory.
"It's a special group of boys here and that will go down in history as one of the best ever wins, I think. That was incredible."
While the spirit and belief in the side is one thing, Yeo said Penrith's patchy start to the 2023 season helped them when they were down in the decider.
The Panthers only won four and their first eight games this year and even the matches they were winning, a 16-15 win over Newcastle an example, the side didn't have things go their way for much of the 80 minutes.
"We feel like we know what can win games," Yeo said.
"We haven't been in that position too much but the lessons we learnt at the start of the year, we lost a lot of close games, held us in good stead.
"You've got to have confidence in your ability to play. We've got the utmost confidence and we're never out of the fight. What we do works and you've just got to trust it."
Yeo and the Australian Kangaroos side start their Pacific Championships campaign on October 14.
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