Penrith prop James Tamou.

Ivan Cleary said the way prop James Tamou conducted himself over the opening five weeks of the season made the decision to appoint him sole captain an easy one.

In February Cleary announced he would adopt the same approach he used at the Wests Tigers, appointing a leadership group that included Tamou, James Maloney, Isaah Yeo, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Josh Mansour and Nathan Cleary. 

Cleary said he always intended to name just one leader for their 2019 campaign, but wanted to use the opening rounds to see who was willing to step up to the challenge.

"When you put these groups together the ideal thing would be to have someone actually rise out of that group and that's what's happened," Cleary said. 

"James [Tamou] has come through and grown in that group. 

"He's effectively risen above [the others] - he's well respected, he's consistent and he's a family man with great values.

"Right now it's good for the team and he's the man to lead us with the support of that group."

Panthers five-eighth James Maloney.
Panthers five-eighth James Maloney. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

The Panthers haven't had an ideal start to the season with the Eels, Storm and Titans getting the better of them. Their wins - over the Knights and Wests Tigers - came in close affairs.

Cleary said with the number of changes he's made since taking over as head coach it was always going to take time for the side to find some continuity. 

"This year we are attempting to make some changes in the way we play, what's expected of individuals and our strategy," he said. 

He's well respected, he's consistent and he's a family man with great values

Ivan Cleary on James Tamou

"This team still has to learn how to be consistent - in attack and defence.

"Sometimes it takes a bit of time for that change to be fully implemented. 

"A lot of teams go through the start of the season still trying to find themselves - you don't work out what the competition really looks like until after eight or 10 rounds."

The Panthers head to PointsBet Stadium on Thursday night to face Sharks. Cleary said their main focus will be getting their game right after what has been a disappointing start to the season.

"We will be expecting a tough challenge," Cleary Said. 

"But our challenge right now is the produce performances that are capable of winning.

"I feel we can do that but we need to play better and quite a few areas."