Jarome Luai challenges his critics to ‘keep hating him’ as Penrith Gun reveals he ‘loves the hate speech’ as crucial State of Origin selection call looms over him
- Jarome Luai was superb in Penrith’s 48-4 thrashing of the Roosters
- The Panthers star is under pressure to keep his spot on the NSW squad
- Luai insisted that criticism only serves to propel him forward
Jarome Luai has fired back at his critics, urging them to ‘keep hating’ after producing a vintage gig for Penrith on Friday night.
The Samoa international was at his best when the reigning premiers beat the Sydney Roosters 48-4 at BlueBet Stadium.
Luai played a key role in the Panthers’ two premiership triumphs and has been a mainstay for New South Wales since reaching State of Origin two years ago.
A lackluster start to the season saw the Penrith cannon’s place in the Blues squad come under scrutiny, but Luai revealed the criticism only spurred him on.
“I just stripped it down and left all the outside noise behind and just wanted to enjoy some footy with my friends,” he told the The Sydney Morning Herald.
Jarome Luai has challenged his critics to ‘keep hating him’ after delivering a blistering performance as the Panthers thrashed the Roosters 48-4 on Friday
Luai had a hand in Penrith’s three tries in the first half and scored one himself in the second half
“I love the hate chat. I know I am hated by a lot of media. They know who they are. Keep hating. I love that shit.’
Luai had a hand in three of the Panthers’ first four tries, scoring one himself in the second half – his first of the season – as the reigning Premiers thrashed the Tricolours.
The performance could hardly have come at a better time for Luai, whose New South Wales five-eighth place this season has been under serious threat from the in-form Nicho Hynes.
And the dazzling display against the Roosters came before the eyes of New South Wales coach Brad Fittler, who was at BlueBet Stadium as part of Channel Nine’s commentary team.
Few players in the game are as polarizing as the energetic and competitive Luai, but after Friday night’s performance there will be little doubt about his ability to command the New South Wales left flank if he is called up again.
Penrith and New South Wales teammate Nathan Cleary hoped the masterclass had alerted Luai’s opponents.
“I thought he was the best player on the field,” Cleary said of his NSW and Panthers halves partner.
‘That’s my boy. I’ve always enjoyed playing alongside him and to see him do his thing tonight was pretty cool.
Nathan Cleary (left) lashed out at the criticism his Penrith and NSW teammate have received
Cleary (right) and Luai were part of the NSW team that won the 2021 State of Origin series
“He just had that swagger about him. I love him when he is like this.
“A lot of people want to talk about him negatively, so I hope there’s a lot of positive talk about him tonight. He deserved that.
“Some of the criticism he takes (…) It’s the game we play and he knows that, but when you talk about statements, I thought he looked pretty good.
“(The criticism) is frustrating, but ultimately we have no control over it. You just have to control the things you can control and I don’t think anything will change in that regard.”
Luai remains hopeful of being selected in the Blues squad for Origin I later this month
Luai was pleased with the Panthers’ win, but denied suggestions that he had flipped the switch just as Origin’s selection pressure began to mount.
“People say I’m more motivated to play well now because Origin is just around the corner, but I always want to play well,” he said.
“It’s a privilege to play here with my brothers.
“I just think every game is an important game for me to play well.”