Sport Luai eyes even bigger season for Panthers

05:50  08 april  2021
05:50  08 april  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

Luai puts on a show in Penrith win

  Luai puts on a show in Penrith win Jarome Luai has continued his sparkling start to the NRL season, scoring a try and setting up another in Penrith's 30-10 win over Canberra.Arguably the form player of the opening month of the season, Luai was again the star on Friday night with his ninth try-assist of the campaign and one of his own.

@PenrithPanthers playmaker Jarome Luai is happy to be at the foot of the mountains for at least the next four years.

Panthers star Jarome Luai 's pride in representing all aspects of his family background may have played a minor role in his character in a rugby league-themed comic. Luai is one of dozens of NRL players to feature in Rugby Blood II, a creation of former Melbourne Storm prop Keith Mason, who "I have got pretty big muscles and it looks pretty close to what I look like so I was pretty shocked at how good I look. There are some big -name players in it so I’m pretty keen to see how it looks when it comes out." Panthers halves partner Nathan Cleary, Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton and Storm winger

Jarome Luai became a genuine NRL star last season but the Penrith five-eighth is already producing better numbers than the ones that made him such a standout.

a female football player running with the ball: Jarome Luai's key numbers for the Panthers are up even further this season after strong 2020. © Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS Jarome Luai's key numbers for the Panthers are up even further this season after strong 2020.

The confident young half laughs when asked if he was concerned about second-year syndrome and the Panthers losing so much experience from the grand final side.

"It was funny to us," he said.

"Obviously we lost some of the older boys and are forever grateful of what they brought to the club but we learned really fast what it takes to be great in this league.

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Jarome Luai could have kicked stones or tried to kick on elsewhere. "Jokingly, if I had a dollar for every time Shane Richardson and Mark Ellison rang me trying to get Jarome to go to Souths I'd be a wealthy man," his manager Darryl Mather laughs. Like plenty of Penrith prodigies in recent times, interest Not at all surprising given Luai was considered the better catch between he and Nathan Cleary during junior days that saw them pairing together from the age of 14. After watching Cleary first crack, then begin to dominate first grade, State of Origin and land an estimated million dollar a year Panthers deal, Luai is

Panthers half Jarome Luai experienced the highest and lowest points of his young NRL career in the space of a fortnight, but it was his newborn son that helped him forget about the hard times. The then-21-year-old exploded into the public consciousness in round 17 last season in his run-on debut and just his second NRL Luai starred with two tries as an injury- and Origin-ravaged Penrith stunned the more-fancied Warriors 36-6. With Penrith still short on troops, Luai started the next two games but the Panthers lost both heavily and he suffered a serious ankle injury in a 50-18 round-19 loss to Brisbane.

"We've got a lot of good leaders here who are doing a really good job for us."

Only now, Luai is one of them.

In four games this season he has set up six tries - four more than at the same point last year after the Panthers had beaten Sydney Roosters, St George Illawarra, Warriors and drawn with Newcastle.

As expected, he's copping more attention on the left edge and is making an average of three more tackles a game than he did last year, but his missed tackles have gone down from 2.8 per game to just 1.7.

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His average running metres have gone from 67 per game in 2020 to 96 so far this season.

"(Viliame Kikau) is making my job easier, everyone can see how good he is playing, not only in attack but defensively as well," he said.

Manly hit new low in Penrith NRL flogging

  Manly hit new low in Penrith NRL flogging Manly have recorded their worst start to a season in both attack and defence after being flogged 46-6 by Penrith.A week after pulling off the try-saver of the season to win the game for Penrith against Melbourne, Kikau was at his damaging best in attack at Lottoland.

Jarome Luai has embraced the challenge from teenage playmaker Matt Burton for Penrith's vacant five-eighth spot, saying they will drive each other to improve. Luai is expected to get first shot at replacing the departed James Maloney having waited patiently over the past two seasons , stepping up "Matty's a good kid and he's got some real talent. So we can help each other out and be more competitive and be hard on each other and we'll only become better players. "There are always other boys fighting for spots and we've got a lot of young talent here, so I need a big pre- season to lock down that jersey."

A local junior, Luai was a member of the premiership-winning Panthers NYC side in 2015. He stepped up to senior football in 2017 and played five-eighth in the Panthers ISP side that won the premiership and the state championship title. He made his NRL debut in 2018 and then made headlines in his second game with two scintillating tries in a man-of-the-match performance against New Zealand Warriors. Luai capped off his breakthrough year by committing to Panthers with a contract extension until the end of 2021.

"He's working hard off the ball and is doing a lot for me and my confidence.

"I'm happy with how our edge is going so far."

Penrith's victory over Melbourne in round three showed Luai is more than just a deputy to NSW halfback Nathan Cleary, who was rested after suffering a concussion the week before.

It bodes well for the NSW Origin hopeful who was brought into the squad last year but not used by coach Brad Fittler in the series loss to Queensland.

On Friday night the Panthers' hot start will be tested once again when they host Canberra, whom they beat 30 years ago in the famous 1991 grand final.

The Panthers are holding a reunion of all the players from the premiership side at BlueBet Stadium and want to do their predecessors proud.

"They like that tough style of footy," Luai said of the Raiders, who have won three of four to start the year.

"We haven't played them with Josh Hodgson in a while and he brings a lot to that footy side.

"We'll have to lock down that middle."

Banged-up Panthers aim to maintain winning ways vs. Blue Jackets .

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