By his own admission James Tamou’s first season as a Panther was an inconsistent one.
The former Cowboys prop came to Penrith with plenty of fanfare given he was the club’s star recruit.
But despite being one of three players to have played every games for the Panthers last season, his form was notably down on what he was able to produce previously for North Queensland.
Looking back on 2017, Tamou admits the move from Townsville to Penrith was a tougher challenge than he expected.
“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” Tamou told Nepean News.
“At the time I didn’t think it was too hard but looking back now, adjusting to the Penrith style of play it was a lot more difficult than what it seemed.
“I think last year was a learning curve for a lot of us given there were a lot of debutants in the team.”
There were also challenges off the field as well with the former Kangaroos and Blues prop conceding his focus initially at pre-season training wasn’t all there given he was concerned his young family had still not found somewhere to live when he fronted for training with his new club for the first time.
But twelve months on and a more relaxed and settled Tamou is fully primed for a big 2018 season.
That first day pre-season we still didn't have a place of our own that we could call home yet and obviously I'm thinking about my wife and kids during that time," Tamou admitted.
“It was one of those times where there was a lot on my mind.
“But a year on and we’ve all settled in well now so it makes it a lot easier for me to concentrate on football.
“Going through this pre-season everything has become a little easier and I’m looking to start fast in 2018 and can’t wait for the season ahead.”
Penrith heads into the 2018 season minus that ill-fated favourites tag which the club struggled to come to terms with for the better part of the 2017 season.
But there is still plenty of expectation that this roster needs to take the next step and become a top four side in order to be seriously considered as a title contender.
Tamou says that while the team will benefit from not being 2018 premiership favourites, he states there are lessons to be learned from their 2017 season, if they are to challenge for a premiership title.
Photos: 77 Media.
“I think it takes a lot of pressure off the playing group,” Tamou replied.
“When you read too much about yourself, you get your tail up and you think you don’t have to do too much (to win a game).
“I still remember the start of last season quite vividly and it hurts.
“But while there was something there for us as a whole to be able turn it around during the season especially winning a few on the trot, we can’t rely on that again.
“We need to take everything into account on what during that last season just gone and take those learnings into this year and start well.”