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Penrith Panthers skipper James Tamou.

Panthers captain James Tamou knows watching any finals action will be almost unbearable with Penrith failing to make the top eight.

The club's season is over despite having one round to play following three consecutive losses and the highest they can finish is an agonising ninth.

Tamou can't help but rue some decisive moments that could have improved the team's standing.

And he certainly doesn't intend to flick on the TV at home and put himself through the pain of seeing other clubs playing deep into September.

"It is always hard to sit down and watch finals footy when you're not there. Probably most games I won't watch just because of that fact," Tamou said.

"It is disappointing to miss out and look back at past games. You sort of think 'could have done more' or 'what if this [happened]'. All the what ifs.

"It's always hard around this time of year when you're not thereabouts ... very disappointing. But the potential the club has is massive so the next 10 years I think they'll be fine. Massive futures with some of these young ones."

It's been a challenging first campaign as skipper for Tamou, who recently admitted he's tossed and turned at night with losses weighing on his mind.

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"As a player, you kind of do your thing and shrug it off. As captain, you take more on board with it. You're obviously around it a bit more," Tamou said, adding family life has given him respite from the pressure.

"The kids, they definitely can take your mind off things and they do such a great job," he said. "They're at a good age so I'm just happy to run around with them."

Tamou conceded the pre-season sex tape scandal that resulted in Tyrone May being charged by police for recording and disseminating images without consent - May was subsequently stood down under the NRL's no-fault stand-down rule - impacted the squad's early output.

"Looking back on it, I guess it did. Looking at the other players, I guess it was sort of around and the boys were thinking more about it," he said.

"But at the end of the day, I think we just needed to come together as a team and do what works. We saw at one point of the year we knew what worked, it was just being more consistent."

On a personal note, Tamou returned to his best form in 2019 and credited the new leadership role with inspiring him to stand up every week.

"Another thing being captain, you've made a secret contract with yourself that you want to do well for the team," he said.

Penrith Panthers skipper James Tamou.
Penrith Panthers skipper James Tamou. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"It's just one of those things that you have to do - there's no ifs or buts. That's probably been one of the best things for [my performances]."

The regret of not capitalising on this season's opportunities aside, the 30-year-old Tamou is optimistic about the future.

Along with a horde of exciting youngsters in their ranks, Penrith have lured former Panther Api Koroisau back to the foot of the mountains from Manly on a three-year deal starting in 2020.

"Both sides of the ball, defensively and in attack, he offers so much. Anything he brings is definitely an addition and it's hard to see why Manly let him go, he's such a good player," Tamou said.

Sea Eagles hooker Api Koroisau.
Sea Eagles hooker Api Koroisau. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"He's sort of off-the-cuff which will help some of our players. A massive signing for us, I think."

While veteran five-eighth James Maloney will depart the club to play in the UK Super League next season, Tamou believes Nathan Cleary is ready to thrive as a dominant playmaker having begun to take more control and increase his talk.

"Nathan's come out and been more of a leader," Tamou said. "Just demanding more from players where in the past he might have stepped back and watched.

"On the footy field, in the video room, a bit of everything - if he sees something on the video that's happened in the game he'll tell you about it and tell you what he wants from that situation."

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