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Luai relishing the chance to lead

Westpac NSW Blues half Jarome Luai wants to show his fans that he can be as good a leader as he is an energetic player, when he makes his return to the Ampol State of Origin arena next Wednesday at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

Having missed Games Two and Three of the 2023 series, Luai said that experience left a mark.

He has enlisted some guidance from Blues coach Michael Maguire on how to fulfill his ambitions of being a better on-field leader.

Luai has also been included in the Westpac NSW Blues leadership group for the first time, alongside new captain Jake Trbojevic, vice-captain Isaah Yeo, Nicho Hynes, Payne Haas and debutant Cameron McInnes.

“I know I’ve always been that sort of kid known for my energy, that type of role,” Luai said.

“For me moving forward as a playmaker I want to dive deep into the leadership role.

“I’m really excited for that and grateful for the opportunity Madge has given me to step up into this role and show that I’m a leader also – not with my voice but with my actions.

“I don’t know if it (leadership role) has always suited me, but it’s the sort of step I’ve wanted to take.

“I think not being in that Game Three side last year gave me a bit of time to reflect and think back of what I could do better, and be better, at.

“I’ve spoken to Madge before camp and he told me how much passion he wants this team to show and bring the people in.

“That’s where I can connect myself to the people of NSW because I’ve always been passionate about my home, my family … I’m playing for their homes and their families too.

“My last name is going to be on my back but that Sky Blue for me represents the people of NSW. I’m pretty keen to play for those people.”

Luai is also keen to re-engage with his haves partner Nicho Hynes after they played a lot of touch football together for NSW in their youth.

He said he was no doctor but added Hynes looked sharp in Thursday’s field session with the Origin squad in the Blue Mountains.

“I got to really start forming that combination with him on the park. It was really great to have our No.7 out there,” Luai said, as Hynes was on light duties on Wednesday as he recovers from a calf strain.

“We went through some plays and combinations and he did really well – physically and with his voice as well. It was good to have him out there.

“He looked really well; ran well; finished the session. So I think he passed with flying colours.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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