Panthers fans fume at 'disrespectful' Wests Tigers act amid Jarome Luai announcement

The Wests Tigers released a number of images of the Panthers star.

Jarome Luai during an announcement and a photoshopped image of Luai.
Jarome Luai (pictured left) was photoshopped in a Tigers jersey, despite still playing for the Panthers until the end of 2024. (Images: Getty Images/Wests Tigers)

Jarome Luai officially made the announcement he was moving to the Wests Tigers on a mega-deal on Wednesday but the Panthers many not have been thrilled at a photoshopped image used during the process. Luai put to an end months of speculation this week having announced a five-year deal with the Wests Tigers where he will join at the end of 2024.

Luai said he was committed to the Panthers this year and an earlier exit from his contract was never on the cards. The five-eighth is reported be on a $6 million contract across a five-year deal, which was significantly more than the Panthers and Bulldogs could offer.

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However, some fans pointed out the Panthers may have become annoyed over how the process unfolded after it appeared the Tigers released a photoshopped image of Luai in their strip. The image used the caption 'Signed' with Luai in the orange and black.

The account sharing the image of Luai then changed it so he was seen in the New South Wales Blues colours. However, on Platform X, the image remains with Luai in the Wests Tigers jersey.

It didn't stop some fans taking a screenshot of the image, which caused a stir on social media. The Panthers were also reportedly unimpressed with the stunt since he will still be wearing Penrith colours next year.

A fan hit out at the image, which they labelled 'disrespectful' to his former club. "Pretty disrespectful, photoshopping him in our jersey when he's still a Panther," one fan wrote. Another added: 'What happened to the photoshop' after the image was changed on the account.

For now, Luai will return to Panthers training on Thursday having put the ordeal behind him. "I don't want to go into detail about it, but it's been a tough process," Luai said of the decision to take a break from training. I've had to move away from my home and just think about that."

Jarome Luai celebrates.
Jarome Luai (pictured) is still contracted to the Panthers for the 2024 season. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Jarome Luai addresses Ivan Cleary comment

During his Wednesday press conference, Luai moved to address the comments made by Ivan Cleary about his role at the Tigers if he were to join. In November, the Panthers coach suggested he was a "risk" for any club to take on.

"Is he ready for that? (be a team's main playmaker)" Cleary said. "That’s a question mark I would think. Can he do it? I’m sure he could do it. Has he done it? He hasn’t really. In this team, he has his role to play. That’s a risk everyone would have to take."

And Luai said there was no hard feelings and was ready to prove his doubters wrong. "It did shock me a bit," Luai said of Cleary's comments on Wednesday. "But he's not lying.

"It is motivating. I think anyone saying ill about me motivates me. I've always had that edge and that chip on my shoulder. I've always been that kind of kid to prove people wrong." The Tigers have not made finals footy since 2011, but there is optimism Luai could help guide the team - under coach Benji Marshall - when he joins in 2025.

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