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Luai ready to lead as Hynes gets through NSW training

Jarome Luai has gone from a State of Origin outcast to one of NSW's most senior leaders under Michael Maguire and has been handed extra responsibilities in Blues camp.

Luai on Thursday claimed the Blues' attack membrane was now coming together, with Nicho Hynes completing his first training session since entering camp.

Touch footy teammates as teenagers, Luai and Hynes will play together in the halves for the first time in Wednesday's series opener at Accor Stadium.

But Luai has been handed greater responsibilities than just helping steer NSW's attack on the field.

Less than 12 months after being sent off in Game II last year and axed for Game III, Maguire has made Luai part of the Blues' leadership group for this year.

"It's definitely (a nice honour)," Luai said. 

"That's a step where I want to get better at. To not only lead with my footy brain and my voice, but also my actions as well. 

"Playing with younger players at Panthers, they look up to me. I do know footy well.

"With the energy I bring, I want to help other players be their best and reach their full potential. That's something I want to be remembered as."

Luai said his appointment to the leadership group, which also includes Hynes, Payne Haas, Cameron McIness and new captain and vice-captain Jake Trbojevic and Isaah Yeo, had helped changed his outlook in camp after 2023.

"It's been a good time that I've had to reflect on what I could have done better in camp and my approach to it all," Luai said. 

"It's really motivated me and I've just come into camp willing to just lay it all on the line and willing to work and make sure I'm at my best. 

"I've been a victim of just coming into camp and enjoying my time soaking it all up. 

"It's important to do that. But also knowing that it's time to go harder, step it up."

NSW had good news on Thursday with Hynes getting through training unscathed after an early fitness test on his calf strain.

It comes as the Blues prepare to make a call on his availability for next Wednesday's series opener, with reserve half Luke Keary due back at Sydney Roosters training on Saturday.

"He killed it," Luai said of Hynes's session.

"We've done a lot of planning and game planning off the field so it was good to get him out there and start forming those combinations.

"That's important because that's where the membrane of the side is,  that's the spine. 

"It's been really clear, really straightforward. I've really enjoyed the meetings. So it was just about implementing that out there on the paddock."

Hynes runs the ball more than any other halfback in the NRL, but Luai did not expect that to dim his own chances with the ball in Origin I.

And nor does he expect to have to take on more responsibility in the halves, with the injured Nathan Cleary not in the No.7.

"What's in front of us will call the shots. We're going to be playing eyes up," Luai said.

"I've always looked at (being five-eighth) as an important role to make sure I'm a genuine option every time. 

"Even when Nicho is on one side and I'm on the other, I always want to be a genuine threat to the opposition."