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Results top priority but youthful side makes Tamou eager for new deal

The youth and exuberance sparking Penrith to second on the NRL ladder has re-ignited the desire for skipper James Tamou to play into a 13th campaign next season.

Tamou is yet to open talks with Panthers officials to remain at the club beyond this season after his four-year contract expires in November.

But the side's strong position in the Telstra Premiersip and the 31-year-old's form under Ivan Cleary has Tamou feeling like a move to the Super League or a rival club may be premature.

"Absolutely, when you say these boys give me the energy to kick on… 100 per cent," Tamou said when quizzed about his playing future on Monday.

"Winning helps. There were a few years there where I'd come into training and do my own thing but these young kids are living the dream and put it back into the reasons as to why you're doing it.

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"You see stuff like that and things they're doing on the field and it pushes you. 

"But I'm really not sure, I haven't spoken to my manager or anyone in the last couple of weeks. My manager knows not to contact me.

"I'm happy to leave it that way and play and let my footy do the talking. Hopefully, it will be sorted but at the moment we've got a job to do."

Match Highlights: Panthers v Rabbitohs

The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown player retention into havoc in recent months with NRL clubs waiting to gain a clearer understanding of what the 2021 salary cap will look like.

If anything, Tamou believes that could play into his hands with a lesser focus on players' futures and more on the side's results – the Panthers prop happy to allow for things to drag out until the end of the year if need be.

"We're going alright and everyone's going alright so there are more important things at the moment," he said.

"I'm putting the team first and am happy to do that. The times have just shaken everything up, if that (uncertainty) is the case then I'm not too worried."

The Panthers have been the surprise packets since the competition's resumption in May with scalps over the Storm and Rabbitohs placing them in a strong position to finish in the top eight and contend for the minor premiership.

Penrith have only finished first at the end of the regular season twice - coincidentally, the two years they've lifted the trophy: 1991 and 2003.

Cleary's outfit faces the Sharks, Cowboys, and Titans over the next month after a grudge match with the Wests Tigers on Saturday night at Bankwest Stadium.

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"As someone who has played finals and a grand final, I know we've still got a long way to go," the former Cowboys premiership-winner said.

"We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. I think the Parramatta and Melbourne games we took a lot of lessons out of those.

"We've got a young team and teams like the Storm are only going to better under Bellamy and Cameron Smith there.

"Most teams are going to improve closer to the finals and that's what we have to do as well."