Nathan Cleary urged to take action after Panthers' ugly post-match blow-up

The Penrith Panthers captain is being called upon to pull Jarome Luai into line.

Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, pictured here in action for the Panthers in the NRL.
Nathan Cleary has been urged to pull Jarome Luai into line. Image: Getty/Fox League

Nathan Cleary has been urged to pull Jarome Luai into line over his fiery post-match argument with Jaeman Salmon, with leading NRL journalist Phil Rothfield saying the Panthers captain should step in. Luai and Salmon were filmed arguing after full-time of the Panthers' loss to Brisbane last Thursday night, with Laui taking his teammate to task about not being in position.

The Panthers five-eighth was fuming that Salmon wasn't in the right spot to take a pass from him, with audio picking up Salmon telling Luai that he was tired. The post-match incident sparked concerns that cracks are starting to appear in a Panthers squad that has been near-impossible to beat over the last two years.

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Discussing the incident on NRL 360 on Monday night, Rothfield said Cleary and co-captain Isaah Yeo should have a word to Luai after a number of worrying incidents in recent months. “I worry a little bit about Jarome Luai. The incident in Origin last year when he stood over (Selwyn) Cobbo, I didn’t like that,” Rothfield said.

“I didn’t like what he did at Brian To’o’s wedding and the speech he made which he later apologised for. I didn’t like him addressing the player like that, he obviously missed Kikau in his side. I think Jarome is at a stage where the coach or Nathan Cleary and the captain (Isaah Yeo) need to have a chat to him.”

Jarome Luai and Jaeman Salmon, pictured here in a fiery post-match argument.
Jarome Luai and Jaeman Salmon were involved in a fiery post-match argument. Image: Fox League

Co-host Paul Kent agreed that Luai has stepped out of line on a number of occasions, but said he had no issue whatsoever with Luai and Salmon's exchange. “I didn’t have a problem with him taking Salmon to task over that, that’s purely football. The other stuff is other stuff,” Kent said.

“I don’t think it’s about temperament, what Luai said, all he did was grab a younger player and say ‘mate you missed your assignment, you get there’. Salmon said he was tired, he’d been on the field 19 minutes, tired is not an excuse.

"Tired is a dirty word in rugby league, they don’t like to use it. Salmon should have pulled his head in and said to Luai as the senior player and representative player, ‘fair call mate I won’t make the mistake again’.”

Jarome Luai responds to incident with Jaeman Salmon

Rothfield said the argument “would have been best kept for the sheds", while Braith Anasta agreed that Luai and Salmon should have been aware the cameras were filming them. “He is a senior player Luai, he should be able to go to one of his players and give him a rocket,” Anasta said.

“In front of the cameras is unusual, I don’t really have a problem with it but as a senior player you’ve got to be aware of your surroundings. In saying that, Salmon seemed to fight back. He didn’t say sorry I missed my assignment. Tired is not an excuse.”

Responding to the furore created by the incident on Monday, Luai told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It’s just about getting better each and every week for us. Sometimes you have to have some courageous conversations to find that.

"Being such a close group allows us to do that and move on quickly from it when things don’t work out. Lessons and learning and speaking about it on the run is a big part of our game and development as a team. We’re always brothers at the end of the day when work is finished.”

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