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Panthers hooker Api Koroisau.

The best hooker-halfback combinations aren't built on the field but off it, according to Penrith's Api Koroisau.

And the Fiji international has had a few with the likes of Adam Reynolds at the Rabbitohs, Peter Wallace at the Panthers and Daly Cherry-Evans at the Sea Eagles.

Now he's looking to forge another strong alliance with Nathan Cleary during Koroisau's second coming at the Panthers.

When he played the 2015 season with the Panthers, Cleary was running around in the under-18s.

But Koroisau knows what works and what doesn't around the base of the ruck.

"So the most important thing is off-the-field. You have to get to know each other well before you can play together well," he said.

"You learn each other's vulnerabilities, liabilities and strengths. You put yourself out there to be received for who you are. And I think Nathan and I have done that well so far.

"We're getting that connection away from the field so we can bring that into our games on the field."

It's not a case of sharing a coffee or a meal together off-base.

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"It's also passing him in the corridor or doing weights together. We make sure we stop and talk, have conversations rather than just a casual 'hello, how are you?'

"That's a really important thing."

Koroisau is reconnecting with former coach Ivan Cleary and reuniting with his old Sea Eagles mentor in Trent Barrett.

"Baz and Api have got a really good relationship together from their time at Manly," Nathan Cleary said, comparing his skills to that of his NSW Origin teammate Damien Cook.

"Api's quite similar to Cookie and he'll hate me saying this but he's not as fast as Cookie. But he's probably the craftiest hooker I've played with.

"Just the way he works around the markers and the ruck, there's not many people who can do that. He's pretty skilful and I'm looking forward to playing with him.

"The way he holds the markers up I think he's the best at it in the game."

Koroisau doesn't feel his football style has changed much in the five years he's been away from Penrith. But there's been big changes on the personal front.

"I've got a beautiful wife and two kids now. They have grounded me, kept me in line, and helped me personally grow a lot," he said.

"That has had more to do with me playing well at this stage of my career than just being more experienced.

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"The game hasn't changed that much over the past five years. But I have in the sense of my growth off the field."

He also thinks he's fit enough and wily enough to play 80 minutes for the Panthers this year if required. He also knows there are talented players who can play at rake like Tyrone May and Mitch Kenny.

"At the moment they've kept a lid on all that with me. The coaches have done well mixing things up on the field, but always making it team-based. It's sort of showing everyone that everything is available," Koroisau said.

"It pushes people to go to good levels. It's been great for me and if you're asking me can I play 80, I think I can.

"I've taken myself out of an environment I felt comfortable in with Manly to here where everything is up for grabs."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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