Advertisement

Jarome Luai's revelation about Nathan Cleary before final NRL season with Panthers

Luai will leave the three-time premiers at the end of the season.

Jarome Luai says he'll "never forget" the bond he formed with Nathan Cleary and some of the memorable moments they shared, as the five-eighth embarks on his final season with the Panthers in the NRL. Luai is racing the clock to be passed fit for his side's season-opening clash against Melbourne on Friday, having missed Penrith's World Club Challenge defeat to Wigan as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary is confident Luai will be passed fit to play against the Storm and has challenged his team to send the three-time premiership winner out of the club on a high. Luai agreed to join the Wests Tigers from 2025 after signing a $6 million deal to be the marquee star of the club for the next five years.

Three-time NRL premiership winners Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary have struck up a formidable partnership at the Penrith Panthers. Pic: AAP
Three-time NRL premiership winners Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary have struck up a formidable partnership at the Penrith Panthers. Pic: AAP

Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary formed a special bond

Alongside halfback and co-captain Nathan Cleary, the talented five-eighth has formed one of the most devastating partnerships in the game. Luai and Cleary have come up through the club's juniors together and shared in Penrith's three straight premierships - the first time the feat has been achieved since Parramatta in 1983.

Speaking ahead of his farewell season with the Panthers, Luai admits it's a special bond that he's shared with Cleary both on and off the field. He says as well as the unforgettable playing moments they took part in together, it's the many talks the pair have shared over the years that the No.6 will miss the most.

"You know those drunk talks you sort of have after grand finals (or) after you've done something great," Luai explained to 9News. "We've had some pretty cool chats – D&Ms people call it. Those chats, I'll never forget.

"Even just talking game plans in general, I'll never forget how much of a leader he is and how he makes me a better player. I don't want to get emotional now but he knows ... I'm sure he knows."

Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai have won three NRL grand finals together with the Penrith Panthers. Pic: Getty
Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai have won three NRL grand finals together with the Penrith Panthers. Pic: Getty

Jarome Luai feeling good ahead of new season

Luai said despite going under the knife to fix his shoulder in October, he's feeling more "switched on" than ever and keen to finish his career with Penrith in style. The Panthers coach says despite missing the heartbreaking loss against Wigan in England, he's confident Luai will be given the green light to feature against the Storm in Melbourne.

"He (Luai) is doing really well and we expect him to play," Cleary said. "He's a big part of our team and I'm really excited for what he, Nat (Nathan Cleary) and the rest of the team can do. It's another year of growth and combination, and we've got a little bit extra with it being their last year (together)."

RELATED:

Ivan Cleary hoping 'history' repeats in 2024

The Panthers have lost a plethora of top-line talent over the last few years such as Api Koroisau, Matt Burton, Viliame Kikau, Kurt Capewell, and Stephen Crichton. Each time, the Panthers coach has noticed an extra spark around his departing stars and Cleary senior hopes it will be the same with Luai in 2024 as the Panthers chase a fourth straight premiership.

"We've got a bit of history around the boys that have left," Penrith's coach said. "A lot of them have had that little bit of something driving them a bit more. Certainly there's three or four of them that had their best seasons in their last year, so I hope that trend continues.

"It's hard to articulate what exactly that is, but they're all so close these boys, and the ones that have left as well. Everyone understands why they leave, and they love playing together. So I guess it's just channelling a lot of energy into making the most of every opportunity we get."

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.

Yahoo Australia