Walker's Origin help made Luai even better

·2-min read

Jarome Luai has revealed how a stint with Cody Walker in State of Origin camp last year turned him into an even more dynamic footballer for Penrith.

Luai and Walker will face off on Sunday in a virtual NSW trial for the No.6 spot, as part of the headline clash between Penrith and South Sydney.

The Panthers five-eighth has easily been the best No.6 of this season, with even Walker admitting this week the 24-year-old's form couldn't be ignored.

But Luai has been just as complimentary.

The Penrith star spent all three weeks of last year's Origin camp marking up on Walker and Nathan Cleary, taking notes on his game and what he could bring into his own.

"He's probably the best at taking short sides. It's something I have tried to implement in my game," Luai told AAP.

"I am a player who can watch things and pick a lot off actually playing against him. So I took a lot out of training with the boys.

"I've got a really good side with Kiks (Viliame Kikau) and (Matt) Burton and Bizza (Brian To'o).

"So whenever I can get them in the game and take that short side on I do that. And that is something Cody has really done."

Luai is well aware of the Origin talk swirling around him, after winning 26 of his last 27 games alongside Cleary and leading the NRL for try assists this year.

Incumbent Walker too flew out of the blocks before being moved to fullback for the suspended Latrell Mitchell, but makes a timely return to the halves this week.

Jack Wighton is also an option as a bigger body, but is missing more tackles than Luai in a struggling Canberra side.

"I can't let my head get into the clouds or anything like that. I think I have to focus on the job at hand," Luai said.

"Cody is a really good footballer, he has scored two tries a game every game that I've watched.

"I think I'm just grateful for being in and amongst the talk. It's not something I am embarrassed about or anything.

"I don't let it get to my head. I have to keep doing my job for the boys.

"If it comes, it comes. I will be ready for it no doubt.

"But it's not here yet."

Meanwhile Luai made no secret of the fact he's someone who thrives on the personal battle against Walker and Adam Reynolds, with Souths having dropped just two games all year.

"I definitely do get up for that," Luai said.

"They're the big dogs. They have a lot of experience under their belt and they know how to win games.

"I love every challenge, just to get me in the game and get ready for it. I can't wait already, just thinking about it."

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