Luai looks set to reject Ivan’s advice by switching clubs for chief playmaker role – and a more lucrative deal


The chances of Jarome Luai leaving Penrith are firming with Wests Tigers in the box seat to land the controversial playmaker’s signature.

Tigers coach Benji Marshall recently met Luai in his home and has not only offered a multimillion-dollar deal much higher than the Panthers’ offer but also the chief playmaker’s role.

Canterbury are also in the race for Luai’s services for 2025 after the NSW and Samoan five-eighth’s contract expires with the three-time premiers.

The Bulldogs have several links to Luai at the club in coach Cameron Ciraldo and former Panthers teammates Viliame Kikau, Matt Burton and Stephen Crichton on the books.

According to a NewsCorp report, Luai has told some current teammates that he is leaning towards leaving at the end of next season and that a third party at the Tigers is offering prop David Klemmer to rival clubs even though he is under contract for three more years as a way of clearing extra salary space for the club.

David Klemmer. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Panthers can only offer Luai a deal worth around $850,000 a year due to their star-studded roster on the back of three straight titles even though they have recently shed Crichton and Spencer Leniu to the Roosters.

Marshall is believed to have told Luai that he can step out of Nathan Cleary’s shadow at Wests to be the team’s main on-field organiser, a role that appeals to the 26-year-old who has often been criticised for riding on the coattails of his superstar halves partner.

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary recently warned Luai to be careful what he wishes for in that regard. He has thrived as an off-the-cuff secondary playmaker during his time at Penrith and does not have the kicking game that the elite halves in the NRL use to control the territorial battle in games.

“I think that’s that’s the biggest thing at play here,” Ivan Cleary said. “If any club wants to (offer) the money, we’re talking, probably the money that he may consider leaving (for), it would have to be for that kind of role.

“Is he ready for that? That’s a question mark. Could he do it? I’m sure he can do it. Has he done it? No, he hasn’t. He’s done a little bit with Samoa of course at last year’s World Cup.

“But generally speaking, in this team he’s had his role to play. So it would be slightly different. So I guess that’s a risk that everyone would have to take.”

The Tigers are coming off the back of two straight wooden spoons and have signed veteran halfback Aidan Sezer to be their chief playmaker next season with young Dragons recruit Jayden Sullivan or ex-Manly young gun Latu Fainu expected to be his halves partner with Adam Doueihi sidelined until midway through the season due to knee surgery.

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