Yeo calmer in middle for NSW than on wing

Scott Bailey
·2-min read

Isaah Yeo reckons he was more nervous before his last representative game for Country than he is headed into his State of Origin debut.

And given he was a forward who somehow found himself on the wing in one of the last City-Country matches in 2016, that's understandable.

"I'm not real good under the high ball so I was pretty nervous," Yeo said.

"We were struggling for numbers. Andrew Ryan mentioned I'd play wing for Dubbo CYMS first grade and we were low on numbers.

"I was only going as 18th man and ended up on the wing."

To Yeo's credit, he didn't drop any bombs out on the left wing, as opposite winger Josh Mansour scored one try on him.

Back then, the City-Country match was on life support and Penrith offered up six players with Phil Gould one of its main supporters.

But this time around there is no questioning the merit of Yeo's selection.

He was a glue in the Panthers' middle as they won 17 straight en route to the grand final, making 36 tackles a game and barely missing one.

"If I get into the middle I'll do what I did at Penrith and try to hold that middle in," Yeo said.

"A lot of that goes back to the team.

"It's been an exciting year, obviously not the way to finish with the grand final but to go from one bubble to the next and be in a State of Origin squad it's unreal."

Yeo will play as an extra middle on Wednesday night as NSW try to save their series at ANZ Stadium, but could revert to a second-row edge if there is an injury.

He is effectively the utility, and while he doesn't expect to find himself on a wing this time around he is prepared to push further out and even into the centres if required.

And if he does, he need look no further than Panthers teammate Kurt Capewell's performance at centre last week for Queensland as inspiration.

"He's a back-rower turned centre in a big game and did well," Yeo said.

"That's what I've done in my career. I've played 20 games in the middle this year but for the other 100 I've been on an edge.

"I'm fortunate enough I can do that and you've just got to be confident and back yourself."