Panthers prepare to lock up Luai

It's a combination that was first built among the Penrith Panthers junior system in recent years but now Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai are preparing to forge a lengthy NRL career together as they look to etch their name among Rugby League's elite in 2019 and beyond.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Luai is set to commence negotiations with the Panthers on a potential five-year deal which would see the live-wire follow in the footsteps of Cleary, who recently signed a lucrative contract of his own that keeps him at the club until the end of 2024. 

It's an exciting prospect for Panthers fans considering the resounding success Cleary has already enjoyed since his NRL debut in 2016, while Luai caught the eye of many after a blistering start to his First-Grade career this season.

Cleary will partner incumbent Origin five-eighth James Maloney in the halves next year, with Luai having a golden opportunity to craft his trade under the two-time premiership-winner before he is expected to make the No.6 jersey his own in the near-future.

He made his First-Grade debut against the Newcastle Knights in Round 10 before playing a starring role in their 36-4 victory over the Warriors seven weeks later – crossing for two tries in a dazzling individual display that well and truly set his mark in the top grade. 

His season was agonisingly cut-short, however,  after suffering ligament damage to his ankle against the Brisbane Broncos in Round 19.

Locking up Luai is a priority for the Panthers as they venture on their desperate search for their first premiership since 2003 – also bolstered by the acquisition of head-coach Ivan Cleary for the next five years.