Celebrating Penrith captain Isaah Yeo was quick to remind critics after taking the tough road to the NRL premiership

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Premiership winners Penrith have taken a swipe at critics for suggesting their season was “done” after losing to South Sydney in the first week of the finals.

As the Panthers celebrated the club’s third premiership into the early hours of Monday morning, co-captain Isaah Yeo took to Instagram to remind everyone how the mountain men defied the experts’ predictions.

Yeo posted a picture of a Fox League post, where journalist Paul Kent had suggested that Penrith “are done” after losing to the Rabbitohs in the qualifying final.

Celebrating Penrith captain Isaah Yeo was quick to remind critics after taking the tough road to the NRL premiership

Camera IconPenrith co-captain Isaah Yeo took to Instagram to remind critics that they aren't “done” after winning the NRL premiership Credit: Supplied

The Panthers co-captain included three face emojis with zippers over the mouth to suggest that actions speak louder than words.

Inspired by players like the hardworking Yeo, Penrith pushed past multiple injury setbacks to lift the premiership trophy.

“Pretty much since the Origin period we’ve been backs against the wall a little bit,” Yeo said after the 14-12 grand final triumph over Souths.

“We’ve never had the same team on the park for two weeks in a row, but I was always looking at it as a positive.

“We were just going to be so battle hardened if we got to this point.

“We’ve had some close games like Parramatta, and everyone wrote us off against the Storm just because of how much juice it took out of us.

“But we spoke about it at the start of the week, and we just felt so confident. “Some players weren’t training, but that was happening for the past month as well, so we just felt like we were so ready to do it.”

Penrith’s charge to the premiership was particularly satisfying for coach Ivan Cleary following claims he was in danger of becoming the new Brian Smith of NRL coaching.

The Panthers coach had been second to Smith on an all-time list of coaches for most premiership games without winning a grand final.

Smith famously coached 601 games at Illawarra, St George, Parramatta, Newcastle, and the Roosters over 25 seasons without winning a premiership.

He had gone 15 seasons without a premiership ring, but he ended the hoodoo on Sunday night in emphatic style.

The win was satisfying for Cleary given Souths coach Wayne Bennett previously declared that the Panthers mentor’s premiership drought was more of a gorilla than a monkey on the back.

“I suppose if you’ve got seven rings you can probably say that,” Cleary said when told about Bennett’s comments.

“Look, I couldn’t bare thinking about losing today.

“Personally, since I was a fan, a player, an assistant coach, a coach – it is probably 45 years of never winning a grand final, so I’m going to make this one last let me tell you.”

You could understand if Cleary made part of the premiership about himself, but put his team first.

“I’m just happy to have the experience really – it is certainly not about me.

“This is about the team, the staff and our fans back home. The whole community of Penrith.

“The sad thing is that they are not here, but I could imagine they are all going crazy. I feel so happy about that.

“It is a bit surreal.”

Penrith certainly didn’t do it easy on their charge to the title.

The Panthers lost in the first week of the finals against Souths before beating Parramatta and Melbourne by two and four points.

Cleary, though, was always confident his side could grind their way to a premiership on the back of their league best defence.

“You get conditioned to do it (close games) really,” he said.

“The last three weeks have been very similar.

“The back end of the year has been like that. We’ve won a bunch of games, but we’ve never won super easily, whereas at the start of the year we were.

“It is funny how it becomes your method or your identity.

“I was confident if it went into a grind because we are good at that.”

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