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George Clarke

Panthers ironman Yeo braces for one last NRL marathon

No forward has spent more time on the field this year than Penrith's Isaah Yeo. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

For a skinny kid who used to pull up exhausted after 20 minutes playing in the back row, Isaah Yeo has developed into Penrith's ultimate NRL ironman.

Much has been said about Yeo's ball-playing skills but the durability of the Penrith lock is also worth noting as he prepares to fell a Brisbane pack containing Payne Haas.

Across 23 premiership games, three State of Origin matches and this year's World Club Challenge, no forward in the NRL has racked up as many minutes on the field as Penrith co-captain Yeo.

The 28-year-old, who will lead the Panthers into grand final battle against the Broncos on Sunday, says there's no secret to his unrelenting motor other than his long legs.

"They help you get around the field," Yeo said.

"It hasn't happened with the click of a finger and I've had to build towards getting big minutes out in the middle.

"I'm very fortunate that the guys around me get through a lot of work.

"If Ivan (Cleary) trusts me while I'm out there and under fatigue then that's not something I can take for granted."

"I hate running, especially road running, but I don't eat much rubbish or drink that much."

It's a sign of Yeo's importance to Penrith that, bar a handful of games this season, Cleary has left his lock out for the full 80 minutes.

Whether it's through a hit-up or a quick-thinking pass, Yeo helps get the Panthers to the right positions on the field that allow Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai to work their magic.

While Penrith are a considered and methodical outfit, Yeo says his side are wary of Brisbane's ability to create chaos with their offloading as they did to beat the Warriors in the preliminary final.

"Their whole forward group can win the physical battle and offload," Yeo said.

"They can win contact and get that offload away and if you don't take control of it guys like Reece Walsh, Ezra Mam and Herbie Farnworth will come sniffing around. 

"You have to make sure you concentrate for 80 minutes, especially with a team that can hurt you like Brisbane." 

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