Jarome Luai moves on from Origin spat with Reece Walsh

George Clarke |

A remorseful Jarome Luai wants to grab his second State of Origin opportunity with both hands.
A remorseful Jarome Luai wants to grab his second State of Origin opportunity with both hands.

A remorseful Jarome Luai wants to leave his spat with Queensland fullback Reece Walsh in the past as he savours a State of Origin recall many thought might not come around again. 

Always happy to play the role of pantomime villain, Penrith five-eighth Luai was axed by NSW after being sin-binned in Origin II following a set-to with Walsh.

The rumbling feud had been sparked in Origin I when Luai had his hair pulled by Walsh, who subsequently ran away to avoid retribution. 

Luai was hung out to dry by NSW in the aftermath of Origin II but given an injury crisis has upturned Michael Maguire’s maiden Blues squad – the No.6 has earned a rapid recall for next Wednesday’s series opener in Sydney.

The Samoan international is set to partner Nicho Hynes in the halves and hinted his long-running battle with Walsh would be left at the door. 

“He (Walsh) wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s a competitor because that’s what it takes to get into this Origin arena in the first place,” Luai said.

“You’ve got to have that chip on your shoulder to get here and then it’s about who is able to connect together better and play as a team.

“I think it (the hair pull) was the first game, but that’s Origin, man. 

“I’m there to do a job, I don’t want to find myself in the bin or anything like that.

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

Luai has never been short of self-belief but there seems to be a part of him which recognises that after last year’s loss of composure, he is fortunate to be back in NSW colours.

Through an injury-ravaged opening 12 rounds of the NRL, Maguire saw Cody Walker, Mitchell Moses, Adam Reynolds and Nathan Cleary sidelined for the series opener.

“It’s a bit of a different feeling for me, especially after sort of not being there for the last game,” Luai said.

“That was a bit of a realisation for myself, you never know when the last game is in this jersey. 

So you’ve got to make sure that you’re ready, come game day and you’re enjoying every moment.

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

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