Jarome Luai is FREE to play State of Origin after being fined for a shoving by the referee in Brisbane Broncos game that could have ruled him out
- Panthers beat Broncos in Brisbane
- Luai made contact with the linesman
- Under NRL rules, he can be suspended
Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai will be free to be selected for the New South Wales Blues and play in the State of Origin series opener after the NRL fined the Panthers playmaker for making contact with a referee.
Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai has explained his push on touch judge Chris Sutton as an honest foul after an incident in his side’s 15-4 NRL win over Brisbane.
Winger Sunia Turuva just scored from a corner kick and Luai, who often celebrates his teammates’ efforts, said he was about to congratulate the flying Fijian when he shoved Sutton in the back.
Players are not allowed to touch match officials and over the years some have been sued by the match review committee [MRC] to do so, while others have not, depending on the circumstances.
The NRL has fined Luai $1,800 for the incident if he pleads guilty, or $2,500 if he contests the charges despite it being his second offense.
Luai is now on track to be selected for NSW in the opening State of Origin match in Adelaide on Monday.
Vision of the incident on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium showed Luai apologizing to Sutton.
Luai showed a glimpse of his best form against the Broncos on Thursday night with the NSW Origin squad named Sunday, but his contact with an umpire could strip him of his spot.
“I was just trying to celebrate with a brother and I didn’t realize it was the touchie until I did,” Luai told AAP after Thursday’s game.
“I immediately approached him and said, ‘I didn’t know it was you’. I wasn’t really looking. My headlights weren’t on. I apologized…and we’re sweet.
“I just wanted to make sure he was okay, and then I explained what had happened.
“I was just trying to go to (Turuva). I know he scored the try and I wanted to try and jump on his back.
“It was my mistake and of course I apologized afterwards.”
Luai’s explanation echoed what captain Nathan Cleary said during the post-game press conference.
‘Romie [Luai] told me right after the game and he said he didn’t realize it was the touchie… and apologized right after that,” Cleary said.
Luai played all three games for New South Wales’ final series but is under pressure from in-form Sharks playmaker Nicho Hynes
Luai insists the contact with linesman Chris Sutton was accidental and has apologized to the official
Luai had another strong game, supporting his stellar showing in last week’s 48-4 victory over Sydney Roosters to all but seal his NSW roster.
“It’s that time of year and it’s always a privilege to be in a conversation about selection,” he said.
“If I’m chosen, I’ll grab it with both hands and do my best.”
The combination Luai has with Penrith half Cleary and slot Isaah Yeo will be a force for NSW and all set to be picked for Origin.
“I played a lot of football with those guys and I like to do that. They are probably the best players I will ever play with,” he said.
The Panthers went top of the table on 16 points with victory, although South Sydney will pass them if they beat Parramatta on Friday night.
With three wins in a row, the defending Prime Ministers are now starting to settle in, with Luai combining nicely with his left flank.
“Our combinations are growing,” he said.
“I have (center Tyrone) Peachey there now. Our advantage has changed a bit over the year with different rear rowers and different centers, but I’ve bonded with this advantage and we can feed each other really well.”