Penrith Panthers playmaker Jarome Luai has hit back at a rugby league reporter after being labeled a ‘villain’ on NRL 360 earlier this week. Luai, along with teammate Dylan Edwards, is currently in negotiations with the Panthers for new contracts, and this topic was discussed on the program by James Hooper and Michael Carayannis from News Corp. During the conversation, Hooper expressed his belief that the Panthers are more eager to re-sign Edwards due to his superior skills, while also criticising Luai for his on-field behavior.
Hooper stated, “I’m not a fan of his on-field antics. I don’t like the way that he really embraces that villain role and it’s the constant niggle.” He went on to cite the recent match against the Melbourne Storm, where Luai allegedly attempted to unsettle opposing players, referencing his controversial bump on Nelson Asofa-Solomona as an example. Hooper concluded his comments by expressing his admiration for other Panthers players such as James Fisher Harris, Dylan Edwards, and Liam Martin, praising their professionalism.
In response to the footy journalist’s remarks, Luai took to Instagram and posted a photoshopped image of the reporter alongside the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. This social media post serves as Luai’s way of expressing his disagreement with the criticism he received.
Luai was placed on report for the incident involving Asofa-Solomona, where he made no attempt to wrap his arm as he made contact with the Melbourne Storm player’s head, causing him to lose possession of the ball. This is not the first time Luai has faced disciplinary action this season, as he already has two previous charges against his name. If found guilty of a third charge for a shoulder charge, he could potentially face a suspension of up to four matches.
When questioned about the incident, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary expressed uncertainty about the details, stating, “I have only seen the one angle. I’m not too sure, it’s like a little fly against a big giant so we’ll just wait and see.” Cleary’s response suggests that he wants to reserve judgment until further information becomes available.
The ongoing contract negotiations between the Penrith Panthers and both Jarome Luai and Dylan Edwards are currently in progress. While Hooper’s comments on NRL 360 may have sparked controversy, it remains to be seen how this will impact the Panthers‘ decision on signing the players to new deals. In the meantime, Luai will continue to face scrutiny for his on-field actions, emphasizing the need for him to maintain a level of sportsmanship and professionalism.