Samoa star's warning to NRL teammate ahead of World Cup final

Jarome Luai's friendship with Panthers teammate Nathan Cleary will take a back seat when Samoa plays Australia in the League World Cup final. Pic: Getty
Jarome Luai's friendship with Panthers teammate Nathan Cleary will take a back seat when Samoa plays Australia in the League World Cup final. Pic: Getty

Samoa's Jarome Luai says his friendship with Panthers teammate Nathan Cleary will go out the window when they lock horns with Australia in the Rugby League World Cup final.

Luai's Samoa stunned England in golden point to become the first tier-two nation in history to qualify for a League World Cup decider.

'INSANE': Fans lose it over never-before-seen League World Cup drama

'UNREAL': Josh Addo-Carr stuns with 'ridiculous' feat in World Cup semi

'HORRENDOUS': NZ star Brandon Smith savaged over 'unacceptable' act

Penrith centre Stephen Crichton slotted the match-winning field goal as Samoa edged a thrilling contest 27-26 in front of 40, 489 fans at Premier League giant Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

Luai, like many of this Samoan side, followed the lead of Tonga's 2017 team by withdrawing their allegiance to Australia or New Zealand in the lead-up to the tournament.

The Penrith No.6 had the option to play for either the Kangaroos or the Kiwis but his decision to represent Samoa has now paid off.

Sunday's final in Manchester will pit Luai against an Australia team littered with Panthers teammates, including long-term halves partner and good friend, Cleary.

However, Luai says he expects there to be no niceties out on the field between the pair, in what is the biggest game of their careers.

"It's going to be awesome, we are competitors through and through. It's going to be a battle against one of my boys, but out there - there's no friends on the field," Luai said.

"There are only brothers and enemies and I'm always going to look at it the same way. We (Luai and Cleary) grew up in the same comp but we haven't played each other on a real high (level)."

Luai said "the stakes are much higher" than when he and Cleary used to face off for their respective clubs of St Mary's and Brothers in the Penrith junior competitions.

There's a World Cup on the line and despite Australia's dominance it's a tournament - even as a tier-two nation - they feel they can win.

Seen here, Samoa's Jarome Luai celebrates after his side's semi-final victory over England at the Rugby League World Cup.
Samoa's Jarome Luai celebrates after his side's semi-final victory over England at the Rugby League World Cup. Pic: Getty

"We've got a great team with a lot of talent within our side," he said.

"It's a simple game and if you're not completing high, then it's going to be pretty tough to win the game. That's our main focus and our belief.

"Belief got us this far when not many people believe in us.

"But with our group there's plenty of that and we always believed we could shake the comp up."

Samoa sweat on Junior Paulo availability

Samoa will be sweating on the availability of captain Junior Paulo, who could be rubbed out of the final after being sin-binned for a lifting tackle in the semi-final win over England.

However, England coach Shaun Wane led calls for Paulo to be spared a suspension - allowing him to play in Samoa's maiden Rugby League World Cup final.

The Parramatta prop was involved in a two-man tackle with fellow forward Royce Hunt as the pair tip-tackled England forward Tom Burgess at London's Emirates Stadium.

Pictured right, Samoa's Junior Paulo involved in a lifting tackle on England's Thomas Burgess during the World Cup semi-final.
Samoa's Junior Paulo (R) was involved in a lifting tackle on England's Thomas Burgess during the World Cup semi-final. Pic: Getty

But Wane claimed the sin-binning was sufficient and Paulo should be free to lead his country out in Sunday's blockbuster final at Old Trafford.

"The way this World Cup has been refereed has been brilliant, they've let the players play," Wane said.

"I was glad he didn't get sent off, our defeat was nothing to do with that.

"I'm going off what the referees have done and they have a standard they won't accept.

"I don't think (Australia coach) Mal (Meninga) would want him missing the game.

"It's not been the way this World Cup has been and everyone wants to see a strong Australia, a strong Samoa."

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.