Interim Wests Tigers chief executive Shane Richardson says Jarome Luai will be a “game changer” when he joins the club next year, but he warned their fans that they are still in a transition period and have to be patient in 2024.
Luai ended months of speculation by announcing on Wednesday that he was leaving Penrith at the end of the season to join the Tigers on a five-year deal worth a reported $6m.
It’s a huge coup for the Tigers given Luai is a representative star who has helped the Panthers win three premierships in a row and has the talent to save them after back-to-back wooden spoons.
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“Every team needs and requires a player who can change the game,” Richardson told SEN.
“They are very few and far between and they are like diamonds when they come up because it’s rare when they do.
“Especially those with a proven track record of three-straight premierships.
“We just had to get him.
“He’s also a massive coup for us off the field in terms of marketing as well.
“He’s an exciting person to have on-board and he will be a game changer for us.”
Richardson joined the Tigers on a six-month deal last month after the entire board was dismantled and made his feelings towards Luai clear during an impressive press conference at the club’s centre of excellence.
“In my opinion, he was the best young half coming through, he’s proven at the highest level as the best young half coming through,” he said in December.
“Not only that, he’s a great team leader. That Penrith side revolves around Luai.
“He’s a great person off the field despite what many media people like to try to make out. You couldn’t meet a better person than him.
“You couldn’t ask for a better person at the club.”
While Luai’s arrival has the potential to make the club competitive again, Richardson has cautioned fans to remain patient this year as they continue to work on the roster under new coach Benji Marshall.
“We will certainly change a few things,” Richardson said.
“We’re in a transition (period). I’m excited about the squad but it’s not 100 per cent balanced.
“We just have to spend 12 months massaging the squad to make sure we set ourselves up.
“We want to win every game we can but we want to build a good squad for the next two to three years.”
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au