Jarome Luai responds after Reece Walsh re-ignites furore over ugly State of Origin spat

The Blues playmaker says the Reece Walsh rivalry is behind him.

Blues playmaker Jarome Luai says he has moved on from the aggressive spat with Queensland fullback Reece Walsh last series as he sets his sights on Origin redemption. Walsh infamously pulled Luai's hair in Game I before blasting his opponent for running away from an altercation that ensued.

Walsh and Luai were then both sent off at the end of Game II after coming to blows in Brisbane, with both players later receiving fines for striking during a melee where the Panthers five-eighth head-butted the Broncos fullback. Luai has become somewhat of a pantomime villain for Maroons fans after frequently getting under the skin of Queensland players but says he is just focused on his own game heading into Game I in 2024.

Pictured Jarome Luai
Jarome Luai says he wants to leave his spat with Queensland fullback Reece Walsh in the past. Image: Getty

In the aftermath of the Walsh incident, Luai was hung out to dry, axed from the squad for Game III. Many believed that his time as Blues five-eighth had come and gone but with an injury crisis upturning Michael Maguire's maiden Blues squad - the No.6 earned a recall for next Wednesday's series opener in Sydney. And while Walsh says he's relishing the chance to once again lock horns with the three-time premiership winner - having come off second best in last year's grand final defeat with the Broncos - Luai says he isn't going to engage with the Queensland fullback.

"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."

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 26:  Jarome Luai of the Blues makes a break to score a try during game two of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Optus Stadium, on June 26, 2022, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Jarome Luai is relishing the opportunity to play for the Blues again.

Luai has never been short of self-confidence but feels like he has a point to prove after losing his cool last year. Through an injury-ravaged opening 12 rounds of the NRL, Blues halves options Cody Walker, Mitchell Moses, Adam Reynolds and Nathan Cleary all picked up serious injuries and were ruled out for at least the series opener. That has opened the door for Luai to not only play again for the Blues again but potentially secure the spot moving forward.


"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."

with AAP