Luai wants to stay loyal to Panthers

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Jarome Luai. Photo: Melinda Jane

He’s currently in hot demand right across the NRL, but new Panthers excitement machine Jarome Luai wants it known that staying at Penrith is his number one priority.

Following a breakout performance against the Warriors earlier this month, the 21-year-old St Marys junior instantly became hot property.

It’s understood Luai’s market value literally tripled after just one game.
Penrith fans got so excited that, for a moment, they almost forgot about their current halfback who was leading NSW to State of Origin glory.

Speaking with Extra Time from the Gold Coast this week, Luai said he would love nothing more than to remain at Penrith after his current deal expires in 2019.

“Oh yeah of course… I love Penrith, the people and the community,” he said.

“I was born in Penrith, so it’s always been my dream to play for this club. I’ve never really thought about leaving, to be honest.

“I love it here and hopefully it does happen [re-signing with Penrith].”

Jarome Luai. Photo: Melinda Jane

With Nathan Cleary also off-contract at the end of next season, it’s widely believed that the club won’t be able to fit both halves on their books. However, Luai said Cleary potentially staying at the foot of the Mountains won’t have any impact on his desire to remain at Penrith.

“I think even if Nathan decides to stay it will also be in my interest to stick around and try and play with him,” he said.

“Nathan and I came through the grades together, so it will be pretty cool to play with him as well.”

Following two standout performances against the Warriors and Sharks, Luai has been named on an extended bench for Friday’s important clash against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium. Luai is currently on standby for both Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (hamstring) and James Maloney (toe).

Luai said if he can’t play in the halves for the foreseeable future, he’s happy to play at fullback or as a utility off the bench.

“I played two games of fullback last year and I really got familiar with the position,” he said.

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.

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