How Tamou is lifting his new Panthers teammates

James Tamou of the Panthers in action during an NRL trial match.
James Tamou of the Panthers in action during an NRL trial match. Mark Metcalfe

DON'T be surprised if you see Penrith star Leilani Latu take his game to another level this season.

The wrecking ball prop has a secret ace up his sleeve and it comes in the form of new teammate James Tamou.

The 24-year-old emerged as one of the game's rising front-rowers last season and was rewarded for his good form with a NSW City jumper.

But even though he's now made 30 NRL appearances for the mountain men, there's still a lot more development that needs to happen for him to take the next step.

And this is where Tamou comes in.

"He's been asking a lot of questions - things about diet, about training, game day preparation, stuff like that," Tamou said of Latu.

"It's just been awesome and I'm happy to give him my take on how my diet is and my training.

"He's come through in spades.

"He was finding it tough at the start of pre-season. He was at the back but now he's really come through and you can see how keen he is."

Tamou admits he's under the pump to perform being the highest profile recruit at the Panthers this season, but he's taking it in his stride.

He's also aware that being one of the most experienced members in the squad comes with added responsibilities.

"There's definitely a bit of pressure there," Tamou said.

"But I just have to answer that with good form, playing good footy and obviously getting some wins.

"It's been a pre-season where I've wanted to lend my voice out a bit more and be a leader to some of the young boys. That's what I've come to achieve so far."

The former North Queensland star has been a mainstay of both the NSW and Australia sides since 2012, but found himself left out of the Kangaroos squad for last year's Four Nations tournament.

Tamou is the first to admit his form wasn't quite up to scratch in 2016, but he's taken plenty of positives from the snubbing.

"It's a silver lining not being picked," Tamou said.

"I was able to get here earlier and get a full pre-season under my belt which is great, especially at a new team."

As expected, Tamou will be out to earn back his spot this season.

"Hopefully it'll come on the back of finding some good form and all that other stuff will look after itself," he added.

Topics:  james tamou nrl penrith panthers

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