Wests Tigers captain James Tamou has given a glowing endorsement of the squad being built under Michael Maguire, labelling it one of the most talented he's seen.
On the eve of the Telstra Premiership season, Tamou's impact at Concord has been immediately felt by those around him but the former Panthers skipper is just as pleased with their preparations.
The joint venture has been the butt of many jokes but the 31-year-old has reason to believe they're more than capable of shocking the Telstra Premiership this year.
"The things I've seen in the pre-season from this team is something I haven't seen my whole career," Tamou told NRL.com.
"I've likened the talent to Penrith in the past but it's about putting it all together and working with each other now.
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"It took Penrith a few years when I was there and I've got no doubt this team is more than capable of doing something similar."
The Tigers showed glimpses of their potential during a 52-18 trial win over Manly a fortnight ago but will be faced with a far stronger challenge by the Raiders to kick-start their season.
"I watched their trial against the Roosters and they blew them away the first 20 minutes with their forwards," Tamou said.
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"It was scary. With Josh Hodgson coming in and Jack Wighton on the edge, it gives me a headache just talking about it.
"But that's up to us to be at our best and match it and I'm confident with the work we've put in that we can at our best. Whether it will be good enough we will see."
After travelling to play matches on the same day last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tamou believes players across the game will benefit from being able to depart 24 hours before an away game.
The Tigers will train on Saturday before travelling to the nation's capital later in the afternoon prior to Sunday afternoon's kick-off.
"It's what I've known all my career and it's a good thing it's back," Tamou said.
"When you stay the night before you've got time to relax and prepare. Flying out in the morning, spending time on a plane and then playing wasn't ideal.
"Going back into a routine I think you'll see a lot better individual performances from some players because they've been able to switch off in the lead-up."
Another man who will be eager to return to Canberra and face his former club is Joey Leilua.
The centre missed the chance to return to GIO Stadium last season but will be a prominent figure for the visitors after switching to the left edge.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on him but we want him to find his feet and be happy upstairs because that's when he's at his best," Tamou said.
"We've done opposed sessions this pre-season and on thing he can do is change the momentum quickly with a run or big hit."
What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?
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