NRL 2024: Jarome Luai doesn’t want a repeat of last year’s Reece Walsh drama

NSW playmaker Jarome Luai is set to renew hostilities with Maroons superstar Reece Walsh after the pair were sent off in the second match of last year’s State of Origin series and is “grateful” for the faith shown by new coach Michael Maguire.

Luai and Walsh were involved in a series of heated moments last year with the pair sent off the ground after one of the most fiery exchanges at Suncorp Stadium included the pair headbutting each other.

After a heavy defeat in Brisbane that night, Luai was dropped for the third match and feared his final memories in a Blues shirt would be heard by 52,433 Queensland fans as he walked down the tunnel in the dying seconds.

It was a wild end to the match as Josh Addo-Carr was sent to the sin bin for throwing a punch before Walsh and Luai lashed out with their heads just weeks after the Broncos winger pulled the long mane of hair of the Penrith star on the pitch. opening of the series.

The three-time Premiership winner described him as “a bit weak” for the hair-pulling at the time, but Luai understands his role and knows he can’t afford to spend time off the pitch as the Blues try to regain the scudetto.

“He (Walsh) has an open heart and is a competitor because that’s what it takes to get into the Origin arena in the first place,” he said.

“You have to have that chip on your shoulder to get here and then it comes down to who can connect better and play as a team.

“I think (The Hair Pull) was the first game, that was Origin, man.

“I’m there to do a job, I don’t want to end up in the garbage or anything like that.

“I wear this shirt with pride and I want to do everything I can to get the win, I play for my family and everyone in NSW, that’s where my passion comes from.”

Luai will partner former touch footy teammate Nicho Hynes in the halves for the series opener in Sydney next week, with his form for Penrith enough to regain his jersey after being dropped for the dead rubber of the year last.

It’s an incredible return from a man who faced online death threats 12 months ago, with Cody Walker apparently in place to wear the number 6 shirt before joining the long list of injured Blues hopefuls.

Now that he has the chance to add another seven Origin appearances, Luai doesn’t want to waste this opportunity.

“It’s a little bit of a different feeling for me, especially after not being there for the last game,” he said, after taking on more of a leadership role with Nathan Cleary injured.

“It was a kind of realization for me, you never know when it will be the last game in this shirt.

“So you have to make sure you are ready on match day and enjoy every moment.

“I always believed in myself and knew that if I was at my best I would have a chance to play Origin.

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity and that Madge trusted me especially after I left the jersey, so I’m really grateful for that.”

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