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NSW halves ready to repay the faith

Westpac NSW Blues halves Jarome Luai and Mitchell Moses want to repay coach Michael Maguire for the trust he has shown in them ahead of Game Two in the 2024 Ampol State of Origin series in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

The Parramatta Eels No.7 has had three different halves partners in his three Origin games, while Luai played the first six of his eight matches with Penrith Panthers teammate Nathan Cleary.

Luai’s last three games at five-eighth have also been with three different halfbacks – Cleary, Moses and Nicho Hynes.

But the pair are being reunited in Game Two this year after coming together in Game Two last year. Maguire has shown his faith in their different skills to get the Blues home at the MCG and square the 2024 series 1-1.

“He’s picked players at the top of their game, playing their best footy,” Luai said today after NSW had its first training session in Melbourne.

“He has trusted us in that and been really willing to let us take control of the team – bringing our leadership skills to the table.

“He wants us to own the side and we sort of love that as players – the trust that he’s showed in us.

“We’ve done the work; done the prep. Now it’s time to lay it all on the line and get this win.”

Despite only one Origin game together, Luai is more than familiar with the way Moses marshals his Eels troops in the NRL and keeps oppositions constantly coming out of their own half with his kicking game. 

“It’s been awesome (working with Moses). He’s been really assertive in what he wants of this team,” Luai said.

“I think, in a way, that’s what we needed after Game One. 

“So he’s come in with that leadership, and just bringing up everyone else to allow them to be at their best. 

“It’s win and nothing else pretty much. We’re ready to put it all on the line.”

The thought of playing a rectangular game of football on an oval-shaped field in front of 90,000 spectators has not fazed Luai. This will be his ninth Origin but his first at the MCG.

“I’ve been asked a couple of times about the perception of the space around you, but I don’t reckon it will affect us too much.

“We’ll get out there tomorrow (in Captain’s Run) and suss out the field, put a few kicks in…

“The 90,000 is pretty crazy – I have played in a lot of big games so I think that will help me.”

“I like to think I thrive in that kind of atmosphere,” said the No.6, who has played in the past four NRL Grand Finals with the Panthers, winning the last three. 

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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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