Yeo more than a chip off the old block

Panthers' lock Isaah Yeo reckons that his childhood idol was his father Justin.
Panthers' lock Isaah Yeo reckons that his childhood idol was his father Justin.

Penrith lock Isaah Yeo remembers very little of his childhood idol playing in the NRL.

And to be fair, his hero did only play 11 games when Yeo was aged just three and four.

The video tapes of his father Justin, however, are forever etched into the 25-year-old's mind.

A North Sydney and Balmain centre after the Super League war, Justin Yeo represents the senior figure of the forgotten father-son NRL combination at the Panthers.

"Growing up he was my idol," Isaah told AAP.

"They used to have old VCR tapes of him playing for Parramatta Marist, North Sydney Bears and Balmain Tigers.

"He did have a big influence. We were very young, he had me when he was 17 or 18 and so did mum.

"He is my father and we're best mates as well. We've got that relationship which is nice."

What's clear watching Isaah play for Penrith is that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

His father was a winner. He claimed six premierships on returning to Dubbo CYMS after his NRL career, including three as captain-coach.

Isaah also praises his defence, fitting given that he himself has proved one of the Panthers' most reliable in the middle this year.

So good has Isaah been on his full-time move to lock, it could help him into a NSW jersey next month.

And while Justin tried to turn him into a five-eighth as a youngster, the No.13 does thank him for some of his ball skills.

"I was fortunate enough to go watch him and be a ball boy on the Sundays when he was playing at Dubbo CYMS," Yeo said.

"He was a level above. Particularly when he first came back.

"They're things I think about and look back on.

"That was probably a driving force as a youngster playing football. I was fortunate enough he was my coach for a few years too."

Justin offers little technical advice now, with Isaah claiming he is more interested in the Panthers' gossip and tactics.

While he and mum Amy will be in the stands on Sunday to watch him take on Melbourne, they won't be the only family members on Isaah's mind

His uncle Gerard's name remains tattooed on his left shoulder, with the Coogee Dolphins player and Bali Bombings victim never far from his thoughts on the field.

"Most of the boys in the family on dad's side, our cousins and stuff, just have his name and the date of the bombing," Isaah said.

"I don't remember an awful lot because I was so young.

"But you do remember bits and pieces that aren't nice. Like going to the family's house the day it happened.

"It wasn't a nice time for the family, Dubbo or Coogee."

Australian Associated Press