Luai lights the fuse ahead of showdown with mates

Jarome Luai chatting to Nathan Taylor on Wednesday. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Penrith premiership winners Stephen Crichton and Viliame Kikau can expect more than a few jeers aimed at them when they return to BlueBet Stadium for the first time as members of Canterbury.

The pair – along with Matt Burton, Jaeman Salmon and coach Cameron Ciraldo – will return to their old stomping ground on Friday for the blockbuster 6pm match-up between the Panthers and the Bulldogs.

While all four players won premierships and were celebrated during their time as Panthers, they can all expect a more than frosty reception when they hit the field this evening.

“I hope they (Penrith fans) give it to them,” Jarome Luai told the Weekender.

“They love Critta and Kiks for what they did for the club, but for 80 minutes they need to give it to them.”

While Luai was being rather jovial in his message, he knows how significant this Round 10 clash is for a number of reasons.

Not only will it be strange for Penrith fans to see their former heroes in the blue and white, but the Panthers will want to be at their very best up against one of the competition’s more improved teams.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Luai said.

Jarome Luai. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“I have a few good relationships in that team, which makes it fun for this match-up, but at the end of the day it is all business and we’ll be going out there to get the two points.”

Luai said coming up against Crichton for the first time as an enemy will be quite the experience.

“We’ve done a lot of opposed against each other out here, so it might be similar to that, but it will probably be a lot more intense as we fight out there for the two points,” he said.

“We’re all competitors at the end of the day and we all love to win.

“It’s going to be good coming up against our brothers.

“But that’s footy – this is what it’s all about – it’s about going up against your mates, no mates on the field.”

Jarome Luai. Photo: NRL Photos.

While Luai is not contemplating it just yet, he too will be an opposing player of Penrith’s when he joins the Wests Tigers next year.

The 27-year-old said he hasn’t thought about what it’s going to be like to go up against Penrith, nor has he asked his former Panthers teammates what it’s like either.

“I’m just focused on enjoying this moment rather than worrying about what the future’s going to be like – I’ll deal with that when it gets here,” Luai said.

“It looks like they’re enjoying their time over there [at Canterbury]… hopefully I can transition the same way they did but, like I said, I’m not too worried about that.

“I’m really focused on what I have here and enjoying the time that I have left here.”

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

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