Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher has answered with an emphatic “no” when asked if the club will allow Jarome Luai to head to the Tigers a year early amid speculation the playmaker is growing discontent with his current club.
Luai has been granted leave from Panthers preseason training this week in the wake of reports that he has agreed to a five-year, $6million deal with the Tigers from the 2025 season.
Fox Sports’ Cody Kaye spoke to Fletcher on Tuesday morning, with the Panthers boss laughing off suggestions that Luai will be anywhere but Penrith in 2024.
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“Fletcher said ‘there’s absolutely no way we are letting Jarome Luai off his contract in 2024 to play for a rival club’ and further to that, he says Jarome wants to be at the Panthers for the final year of his contract,” Kaye told Fox Sports News.
“However, we all know rugby league is a funny business and it wouldn’t be the first time that clubs have denied the release of a player only for that player to be released.
“At this stage, as far as the Panthers are concerned, Luai isn’t going anywhere.”
The Tigers meanwhile, would love Luai to arrive in Concord a season earlier as they attempt to stop a two-year wooden spoon streak under new coach Benji Marshall.
Kaye spoke to new Tigers CEO Shane Richardson, asking the decorated rugby league administrator if the club is keen to have Luai from 2024.
“You have to imagine that given this massive offer, the Wests Tigers are moving heaven and earth to try and get him (Luai) for the start of Round 1 next year,” Kaye said.
“I asked him (Richardson) point blank if you’d like to get Jarome for the start of the 2024 season and he answered ‘no comment’. Read into that what you will.. It’s not a denial, but it leaves the open question.
“The only way they can do that is if the Panthers decide to let him leave a year early.”
Luai hasn’t been seen at Panthers preseason training since explaining teammates of his plan to leave the club at the end of 2024 to sign with the Tigers.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the Panthers had reluctantly granted Luai leave.
However in a tweet, SMH journalist Michael Chammas said Luai had not answered the club and instead got a someone else to tell them he “wasn’t coming to work because he was angry with them”.
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au