Jarome Luai's brilliant act comes to light after Latrell Mitchell fan incident

Damien Cook has revealed how Jarome Luai reacted to Latrell Mitchell being abused by a spectator.

·3-min read
Jarome Luai and Latrell Mitchell, pictured here in the NRL.
Jarome Luai took exception to fan's abuse of Latrell Mitchell. Image: Getty

Damien Cook has lifted the lid on a brilliant act from Jarome Luai after Latrell Mitchell was allegedly racially abused at Blue Bet Stadium. Mitchell was targeted by an alleged racial slur from a spectator as he made his way off the field at half-time in South Sydney's clash with Penrith in round two.

Mitchell's Rabbitohs teammates were left seething over the incident and could be seen reacting to the alleged slur while in the tunnel. But on Tuesday, Cook lifted the lid on how Luai reacted and praised the Panthers five-eighth.

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”I still remember Luai turn around and head towards the crowd as well because he heard it,” Cook said on the Fox League podcast. “He was in support of Latrell and I said that to him after the game that I really appreciated his reaction in that time.

"I hope Latrell felt the love not just from his teammates but the opposition (as well). We can go toe-to-toe on the field but when we walk off it’s a different game.”

Cook expressed his shock at hearing the slur, which came from a 15-year-old boy. The Rabbitohs hooker also shot down claims the slur wasn't racially motivated.

“It’s just quite a shock - you don’t think it’s going to happen in this day and age. In 2023 you don’t think anything like that is going to happen at all,” he said.

“We see a lot of stuff that happens on social media but this was in person. This is a young kid who is sitting right on the tunnel when Latrell’s walking up there and leans in to say it and makes sure he hears it.

“It’s just not on at all. It was a complete shock and I think if you see the footage you see us all sort of react at the same time, turn our heads really quickly.

“I don’t know how you can say that without being racially fuelled by that comment. I think Nicho Hynes summed it up really well and we spoke about it after the game with the media with a lot of emotion and a lot of protection of our teammate - and it’s that he needs education. It’s not to be named and shamed.

“It’s all about education and for that person to go and learn about the culture and understand some of the damage that he’s done as well. I haven’t seen any of the comments or articles about (the claims) but I definitely don’t see how you can say that and not link it to racism straight away.”

Latrell Mitchell, pictured here at half-time in South Sydney's clash with South Sydney.
Latrell Mitchell was targeted by a fan at half-time in South Sydney's clash with South Sydney. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Latrell Mitchell breaks silence after fan incident

NSW Police have since issued the teenager with an official warning, while Mitchell said: “Whilst the support from people inside and outside rugby league has been great, nobody should have to deal with racial abuse in 2023. It is important for me to call this abuse out immediately.

"Not only for myself, but every Indigenous person who has suffered or suffers this sort of abuse. We have a number of Indigenous players in our squad - who will have all been as equally offended by the comment."

Panthers captain Nathan Cleary said: "It's just disgusting. There's no point in a game where you should feel like you have the right to say stuff like that to a player. I hope they never come back here. They're not fans if they're saying that stuff."

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