Jarome Luai escapes suspension for pushing touch judge prior to Origin selection

Jarome Luai escapes suspension for pushing touch judge prior to Origin selection

Penrith Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai has avoided suspension after making intentional contact with a touch judge during the Panthers’ 15-4 win over Brisbane on Thursday night. Despite it being his second recent similar offence, Luai can pay an $1,800 fine and remain in contention to retain his sky blue number six jersey. With the Blues’ team set to be named on Sunday for the opening match in Adelaide on Wednesday, May 31, Luai will be available for selection.

The Incident

After setting up the first try of the night at Lang Park, Luai ran over to celebrate with winger Sunia Turuva, who had crossed in the corner. As he rushed to embrace his teammate, Luai put a hand in the back of touch judge Chris Sutton in an apparent effort to move him out of the way. Sutton shot a glare at Luai, who quickly moved to apologize, ironically by putting a hand on Sutton’s shoulder, but the assistant referee still seemed unimpressed. Luai said he “didn’t realize it was the touchie until” after he made contact.

Luai’s Apology

“I spoke to him straight away and said, ‘I didn’t know it was you’. I wasn’t really looking. My headlights weren’t on. I apologized … and we are sweet,” Luai told AAP. “I just wanted to make sure he was alright, and then I explained what happened. It was my mistake and I obviously apologized after.”

Previous Incidents

For all his undeniable brilliance, the biggest knock on Luai has been his ill-discipline, including in his last Origin outing when he stood over and shouted at Selwyn Cobbo after the Maroons winger was knocked out in a tackle early in the decider. On that occasion, he also said he spoke to Cobbo after the match and “he was all good … I don’t think I have anything to apologize for”. Despite Luai’s latest apology, the judiciary has previously suspended players in the past for similar contact with match officials, as former Bronco Sam Thaiday pointed out on Channel Nine’s coverage.

Conclusion

Even with Luai available, Blues selectors have a choice to make as to who will partner Nathan Cleary in the halves, with Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes and South Sydney’s Cody Walker in strong form to start the season. It remains to be seen whether Luai’s ill-discipline will cost him his spot in the team.

Source: abc.net.au

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