As exciting as Penrith looks right now, James Tamou reckons only another North Queensland NRL premiership is the only fitting way for him to depart the club.
The Test prop admits he has taken an interest in the Panthers’ NRL finals surge after making the decision to leave defending champion North Queensland and sign a four-year Penrith deal from 2017.
But his priority is a second title for the club that gave him his NRL debut in 2009 and groomed him for representative honours.
Ahead of his final home game in Cowboys colours in Friday night’s sudden death semi-final against Brisbane in Townsville, the NSW Origin frontrower vowed to repay North Queensland and go out a winner.
“Absolutely,” he said.
“Ultimately that is getting me up and ready to play.
“I am excited but sad at the same time.
“It’s getting a bit emotional.
“I will always call Townsville home, but it is one of those things that has to happen.”
Not that Tamou, 27, has any regrets.
The lucrative $3 million Panthers deal will no doubt help return a smile to his face after he finally leaves Townsville.
And Penrith’s head-turning run into the NRL finals has also eased his anxiety.
“They are a young team. Watching them before the finals they have been very exciting,” Tamou said.
“Right now I am concentrating on us but there are good times to come (at Penrith).
“It’s just disappointing that I am getting closer to the end (at Cowboys) – now it’s do or die.”
Cowboys playmaker Michael Morgan admitted providing Tamou a fitting send-off had become a factor in their title defence since the mobile prop broke the news he was leaving in June.
“It’s something we have known that has been coming for a while,” Morgan said.
“It’s sad to see him go. He’s been a big part of the side for a number of years now.
“The best thing we can do for him is make sure whatever games we have left we are giving our all for him and sending him out on a high.”