NSW’s Jarome Luai has hit out at his critics, calling them “idiots” after the Blues five-eighth was sent from the field of play in the closing moments of his team’s State of Origin defeat to Queensland in Wednesday’s Game Two.
Luai and Maroons’ fullback Reece Walsh clashed as full-time approached with a Maroons victory already assured at Suncorp Stadium and the 2023 series secured. Both received red cards for headbutting one another.
At full-time in Brisbane, Luai described himself as a “sore loser”, and the Penrith player took to social media later in the night with a message seemingly intended for those who had taken exception to his performance in Brisbane.
“Chill,” Luai wrote. “All you idiots have work tomorrow morning.” He added: “We go again.”
Rugby league commentator Andrew Voss said he was “gobsmacked” by the player’s response.
“What the hell is that? This is not a player representing the state,” Voss said on SEN. “Jarome Luai, how is anyone meant to take that? Jarome Luai, what the hell have you done?”
After Walsh’s Queensland retained the shield with their 32-6 win, Luai said the chance to add another chapter to the pair’s burgeoning Origin rivalry would help motivate him in the third match of the series next month.
Luai lost his cool when Maroons fullback Walsh interfered with James Tedesco as the NSW No 1 chased a kick to the line in the final minute of the game. That led Walsh to bite back at Luai and the pair headbutted one another after becoming entangled in a fracas.
Teammates pulled them apart and referee Ashley Klein sent both players from the field, with Blues winger Josh Addo-Carr also heading to the sin bin after entering the fray and throwing a punch.
Luai and Walsh have been charged with grade-two striking by the match review committee and must each pay 23 per cent of their match fee after an early guilty plea. Neither will miss any game time, nor will Addo-Carr, who must pay 10% of his fee for his grade-one striking charge.
“It was just a bit of passion,” Luai said of the incident. “I’m a bit of a sore loser as well so I was just disappointed. I just hate to lose. I don’t get baited. I’m a professional and I know there’s a line always on the field. They won the game, so good on them.”
The melee came in the wake of Luai accusing Walsh of pulling his hair in the first game of the series, and after a captain’s challenge earlier in Origin II led the bunker to penalise Walsh for a high shot on the NSW man.
The chance to get one over Walsh will be on Luai’s mind ahead of game three.
“It’s a good rivalry we have now,” Luai said. “If you get the opportunity to play Origin, you’ve always got something to play for, someone to play for.”
Walsh holds Luai, 26, in high regard despite the pair’s recent history of on-field spats.
“It was two passionate players who wear their hearts on their sleeves, who would do anything for their mates and their state,” the Queensland fullback told AAP. “I respect Jarome as a player. He makes the game interesting. I love watching him play and I love having those battles. It brings out the character in people.”
Walsh expects to feel the full force of the Sydney crowd on 12 July.
“You’re always going to get that extra love when you’re in someone else’s backyard, in their territory. It’s going to be a good challenge for the boys,” he said.
Once a fleet-footed fullback himself, Queensland coach Billy Slater has warned Walsh bigger, stronger players will continue to target him in the Origin arena.
“From our point of view, they went after him,” Slater said. “He’s got to learn to accept that that’s coming at him for the next 15 years.”
Walsh is ready for the extra attention, though.
“If you don’t want to get challenged and you don’t want to have that adversity and try and be better, you’re probably in the wrong sport,” he said.