Jarome Luai 'not going anywhere' as Panthers boss smacks down immediate exit

Penrith CEO Brian Fletcher has insisted that Jarome Luai will remain at the club for the 2024 NRL season.

Pictured Jarome Luai
The Panthers CEO has confirmed Jarome Luai won't be granted an early release to the Wests Tigers for the 2024 season. Image: Getty

Panthers boss Brian Fletcher has insisted that Jarome Luai will remain at Penrith for the 2024 season amid rumours he may be granted an immediate release. Luai was a no-show at Panthers training on Monday as tensions simmered due to his planned exit from the club.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Luai's representatives informed the Panthers that he would not be at training this week, days after he was forced to confront teammates during Saturday's session after news broke of his impending departure. He has reportedly told teammates that he intends to take up the Wests Tigers' $6 million deal over five years, at the end of the 2024 NRL season.

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Following Saturday's training session, Luai's representatives informed Penrith that the five-eighth "needed time away from the club". The Panthers have since granted Luai leave and he will not train with the squad this week.

But despite rumours the playmaker is growing discontent with his current club, Fletcher dismissed talks he could be allowed to head to the Tigers a year early. Fox Sports Australia spoke to Fletcher on Tuesday and said: "Fletcher said ‘There’s absolutely no way we are letting Jarome Luai off his contract in 2024 to play for a rival club’ and further to that, he says Jarome wants to be at the Panthers for the final year of his contract.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 01:  Jarome Luai of the Panthers celebrates with Scott Sorensen of the Panthers after winning the 2023 NRL Grand Final match between Penrith Panthers and Brisbane Broncos at Accor Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Luai was forced to confront teammates during Saturday's session and inform them that he intends on taking up the Wests Tigers $6million deal. Image: Getty

“However, we all know rugby league is a funny business and it wouldn’t be the first time that clubs have denied the release of a player only for that player to be released. At this stage, as far as the Panthers are concerned, Luai isn’t going anywhere."

Luai has been paid for two months of service in this NRL calendar by Penrith and the defending premiers' contract offer is understood to be around $2.55 million over 3 years. On Saturday, Michael Chammas of the SMH reported Luai had agreed to move to the Tigers on a five-year deal worth $6 million, with Penrith's reported bid of between $800,000 to $850,000 per year not appearing to be enough to keep him at the foot of the mountain.

However, Luai was quick to respond to the reports with a message to his fans on social media that said no deal had been signed. "No pen to paper here. I'll let yous know when a deal is done. Big Love," he wrote.

NRL's controversial new rule complicates Jarome Luai deal

While Luai may have agreed to join the Tigers, a new NRL rule states the player must inform their club they have received an offer they intend to accept before the deal is given the stamp of approval by the NRL. Under the new rule, there is a 10-day cooling off period after a player receives an offer they’d be willing to accept from another club, allowing for the player's former team to potentially up their offer if they so choose.

After the 10 days, the player can then choose to sign for either club. There is also no obligation for them to accept an offer from their incumbent club even if the offer is matched.

However, it appears highly unlikely Luai will backflip on the deal as the Panthers have declared they can not offer him more than around $800,000 a season and have already been working on negotiating a deal with the three-time premiership winner throughout the offseason. NRL fans have also taken to social media to voice their confusion over the new rule, arguing that it only creates more uncertainty for fans around the movement of their favourite players.

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