The moment Luai broke news of departure as Panthers star comments on Tigers reports

After reports on Saturday morning filtered through that Jarome Luai would be leaving the Panthers to join the Tigers on a five-year, $6 million deal, the Panthers playmaker has taken to social media stating he has yet to make anything official.

Posting on Instagram underneath a NRL on Nine graphic detailing the Tigers report, Luai wrote “No pen to paper here. I’ll let yous know when a deal is done”.

SMH reported that Luai had agreed to the deal with the Tigers, but according to The Daily Telegraph, no such deal has been done with the Bulldogs still in the running for the five-eighth’s signature as well as a third unnamed club.

The Telegraph also reported that Luai has told coach Ivan Cleary and teammates that he intends to leave Penrith at the end of next season.

That is consistent with vision that emerged on Saturday night from Channel Nine, with Zac Bailey reporting it showed the moment Luai informed his teammates he would be leaving.

Jarome Luai tells teammates he plans to sign with the Tigers. Credit: Channel 9Source: Supplied
Jarome Luai sharing the news. Credit: Channel 9Source: Supplied

The Tigers and their $1.2 million a year offer are still the short favourites to sign Luai.

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Luai had been linked to the Tigers for the past couple of months, with last season’s wooden spooners able to offer the premiership winning five-eighth considerably more money than the Panthers were able to and willing to pay.

The Panthers had reportedly offered Luai a two-year extension up to the end of the 2026 season worth $850,000 a year.

New rules around free agent signings implemented in the most recent CBA allow the Panthers to have a 10-day window to convince Luai to stay put in Penrith, but it appears as if that won’t be happening.

Under the new structure, offers for players must be lodged with the NRL and if accepted their current club has a chance to change the player’s mind.

The reports of Luai’s signing will be welcome news to Tigers fans, who have endured a torrid run of late, including two straight wooden spoons.

Coupled with the club’s shock decision to sack the entire board, including chairman Lee Hagipantelis and CEO Justin Pascoe, it’s fair to say a new dawn is rising at Concord.

It comes after interim Tigers CEO Shane Richardson this week doubled down on the club’s pursuit of the Panthers half.

“I’ve made my feelings on Luai well known for a long while. In my opinion, he was the best young half coming through,” Richardson said.

“He’s proven at the highest level he was the best young half coming through.

“Not only that, he’s a great team leader, that Penrith side revolves around Luai. He is a great person off the field despite what many media people try to make out.

“You couldn’t meet a better person than him and you couldn’t ask for a better person at your club.”

If the Blues rep does sign with Wests, it’s expected that new recruit Jayden Sullivan will shift to halfback in 2025 to accomodate Luai’s arrival.

As it stands, Sullivan will partner veteran Aidan Sezer in the halves to begin the 2024 season.

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