Penrith Panthers five eight Jarome Luai has expressed confidence in a halves combination with Nicho Hynes following Nathan Cleary‘s injury ruling him out of the remainder of the 2023 State of Origin series.
Scan results confirmed the worst for Cleary, leaving coach Brad Fittler to search for a new halfback to partner with Luai, who played solidly in the series opener.
Despite stiff competition from Cody Walker, Matt Burton, Adam Reynolds, and Mitchell Moses, Luai believes his experience in competing with and playing alongside Hynes in Game One could yield positive results for the team in the must-win clash at Suncorp Stadium. He acknowledged that opportunities can arise unexpectedly and that players must be ready to adapt and perform.
Luai also addressed recent criticisms of Cleary and Blues captain James Tedesco following their individual performances in the 50-6 loss against Queensland.
Despite Cleary setting up a try before his unfortunate injury, Luai emphasized the importance of wearing the criticism that comes with losing in Origin matches.
He also commended Tedesco’s performance against Canterbury, describing him as a 12 out of 10 player every week who is always there for the team in good and tough times. Luai recognizes Tedesco’s skills and described him as one of the best players in the comp who should be backed by the team. However, the focus should be on defeating him in the upcoming crucial fixture.