Jarome Luai taunts Selwyn Cobbo over infamous Origin controversy

The latest comments set the stage for an explosive State of Origin showdown.

NSW star Jarome Luai has set the stage for a fiery showdown against Maroons winger Selwyn Cobbo for State of Origin Game I. Pic: Getty

New South Wales five-eighth Jarome Luai has set the stage for a fiery showdown with Selwyn Cobbo, after taunting his Queensland rival ahead of next Wednesday's State of Origin opener in Adelaide. The NRL rivals were at the centre of one of the most controversial incidents in last year's series, with Cobbo famously labelling the Blues playmaker a "grub" for proudly standing over the unconscious Maroons winger.

Luai came under heavy fire when he taunted a concussed Cobbo while he was lying on the ground following a sickening knock early in the 2022 series decider. Cobbo was knocked out of the game after a heavy collision with Matt Burton saw him lying on his back and in a world of hurt. Luai then stood over Cobbo and offered some choice words to the Queensland winger before Maroons players took exception to the ugly act and shoved Luai away.

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Cobbo took aim at Luai over the incident again earlier this year, with the Blues livewire returning serve while discussing the infamous incident at NSW camp this week. “If he’s genuine about me (being a grub) then he is going to have to do something about it next Wednesday,” Luai told The Daily Telegraph.

“I can’t wait to get out there and compete and go to battle with my brothers.” I don’t focus on doing it (being an antagonist). It’s just what I’m like when I’m out there. I just want to be myself. I know when I’m at my best and that’s probably when I’m at my best.”

Seen here, Jarome Luai taunts Selwyn Cobbo in the 2022 State of Origin series.
Jarome Luai taunted Selwyn Cobbo while he was heavily concussed. Image: Getty/Channel 9

Luai was considered lucky to be eligible for selection for the Blues' side in Game I, having escaped with just a fine for pushing a touch judge against the Broncos, in an incident that left many fans incensed. The Panthers playmaker also held off a stunning claim from Sharks star Nicho Hynes for the starting five-eighth spot for NSW, with Cronulla's reigning Dally M Medallist earning the utility spot on coach Brad Fittler's bench.

Penrith teammate and NSW lynchpin Nathan Cleary says he found debate around Luai's place in the Blues side to be over the top, and backed his good mate to deliver for Fittler's men. Cleary and Luai have played together since under-16s at Penrith, and have won 78 of 87 games alongside each other in the halves at under-20s, NRL and Origin level.

Nathan Cleary hits out over Jarome Luai commentary

"You try not to get frustrated with it, but I think a lot of the time it is over the top and it's pretty unnecessary," Cleary said to AAP about the commentary around Luai. "I think the case with that is, if people are going to talk negatively about him so often, is when he does something good I want to see a lot of positive talk."

Luai has been known to thrive on questions over his form, answering his critics with a dominant 48-4 takedown of the Sydney Roosters a fortnight ago. "It's how it is, he knows that and I think he has handled it really well. I think he grows a leg from it," Cleary said.

Pictured left to right, Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary.
Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary have won two NRL premierships together at the Panthers. Pic: Getty

"In respects, yes (he will want to prove a point in Origin). "But he also knows that there is more to this game than just him. That's what I always respect about 'Romey', he is always putting the team first. That's something that often gets overlooked too."

Luai admits he did feel the pressure in the past month, which is likely to come again if the Blues stumble in Adelaide and head to Suncorp Stadium 1-0 down. "There's always that pressure," Luai told AAP.

"If you're not performing and you're not playing well, there's someone else out there who can perform well. There's always going to be that pressure every year, whether you're playing at club or whether you're fighting for a representative jersey.

"That's my mindset on it. You're only as good as your last game as well, so you've got to keep playing well."

with AAP

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