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Panthers prop James Tamou.

Penalties in the NRL Telstra Premiership may be down on previous seasons but that trend does not extend to the Penrith Panthers.

The Panthers held a longer than usual video session on Monday and according to former Australian and NSW prop James Tamou, discipline was high on coach Ivan Cleary's list of topics.

Penrith finished the 2018 season as the most ill-disciplined side, averaging 8.9 penalties per game throughout the regular season and finals.

They've started 2019 with even higher numbers (19 in two matches), a trend Cleary's men are desperate to cut out before their round three clash against grand finalists Melbourne in Bathurst on Saturday.

"The main topic was our penalty count. We're averaging [almost] 10 a game, it's something we've got to cut out early or it will hurt us in the end," Tamou told

"It's definitely a problem, we can't keep giving good teams decent possession and field position. No one means to give away a penalty, we're worked hard on it all pre-season, but there are a few things we're not getting right.

Every try from Round 2

"We've got to take it out of the hands of the referee and don't give them a reason to blow a penalty."

While James Maloney's try-saving heroics may have blindsided the issue, Tamou believes the side should have put the game out of Newcastle's reach much earlier in the clash.

"That was massive for Jimmy, at one stage we were just surviving. They had the ascendency and were doing everything we could instead of trying to attack them and deliver a killer blow," he said.

We've got to take it out of the hands of the referee

James Tamou on Penrith's penalty issues

"At some stage down the track that will bite us. We need to deliver that killer instinct to put teams away. The good teams won't let you do that."

Tamou will have his hands full ahead of Saturday night's clash against the Storm as he prepares to face the formidable front-row pairing Jesse Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

The Maori All Star representative's minutes have noticeably increased from 40 minutes in 2018 to a 58-minute average under Cleary in the past fortnight with that notion looking set to continue.

"It's just being active in that time, you can play those sort of minutes but what you in those is up to you," Tamou said.

"I've tried to be more active the longer I can, getting into more tackles and trying to find a job. I still watch clips of myself and there's areas that are stopping me from playing to the best of my ability."

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