Isaah Yeo is usually a man who relies on routine but in recent months is learning to adapt differently to the way he used to go about his footy after becoming a father in November.
Yeo had an unusual build-up to the season opener against the Sea Eagles last week despite his performance suggesting his summer of pre-season training was all smooth sailing.
Yeo churned out 181 metres and 35 tackles in a typical 80-minute performance Penrith fans have come to expect from their leader.
However, it was even more impressive given he missed the pre-season trials in February after contracting COVID-19.
The Panthers co-captain spent isolation at home with partner Ashleigh and four-month-old daughter Haven, both of whom managed to avoid the virus while he was infected.
“I managed to get the en suite so it was the best sleep I’ve had since we’ve had Haven,” Yeo told NRL.com.
“Ash was like my little chef and would bring me lunch and dinner. I think it was a lot harder for her than it was for me and they’re probably the little things that people don’t see away from footy.
“We’re both routine people so having Haven has changed our lives, it’s just the greatest thing ever, it’s everything you can imagine and so much more.
“She sleeps well which is nice and we’ve got a new little routine happening now. I’m just glad the COVID stuff didn’t get to them and I got through it as well.
"It pushed me back a little bit but just happy to get that game out of the way and now I can focus on the next task."
Ash and Haven were in the grandstands to watch Yeo play his first game of the year last week while it was also the first time the Panthers had played an NRL game at BlueBet Stadium since July.
Panthers coach Ivan Cleary labelled Yeo’s round one efforts as “outstanding” considering the lack of game time prior to round one.
“He’s a bit of box ticker so I knew he would’ve been a bit worried about not playing a trial,” Cleary said.
“He’s just growing every year, not just as a player but as a leader. With Nathan being out he’s been able to assume full captaincy duties which he’s done really well.
“But the way he’s prepared throughout the pre-season, he has set the standard.”