"I think I would represent either Samoa or New Zealand. The following year, he would break into the Penrith Panthers first-grade side in round 10 of the 2018 NRL season against the Newcastle Knights off the bench. Go Luai, whose father missed the birth of Jarome’s son because he was still in prison. From that day forward, I pulled back a bit and tried not to be so hard on him. When I did it at the time, I thought I wasn’t hurting anyone because I wasn’t doing it. In 2017, Luai captained the junior Kiwis in a loss to Australia and made his Samoan National team debut against Tonga at the Rugby League World Cup, before gaining any NRL experience. Luai's decision to stay at Penrith earned plenty of praise from close mate Nathan Cleary, who came through the grades alongside Luai from the age of 15. That was really sad for me. All the boys were patting me on the back, cheering that I was going home. At just 23-years-old, Jarome Luai has already had quite an eventful Rugby League career. "It was a very proud moment for me (to represent the Junior Kiwis) and to then go to the World Cup with the Samoan boys. "He's a local junior, he gets along really well with the group that we've got and we're really lucky to have him. The father-son bond that developed over many years through junior rugby league. "It hurt that he didn't get to see me step on that field for the first time," Luai admits. "Martin," the woman said down the line. Go Luai, whose father will be in the stands for his first grand final. I’m starting to tear up just thinking about how proud I was.". I'm the oldest child and with three younger siblings I had to step into that father role for my family. Going through it together is pretty cool – we've got a lot to talk about in the sheds!" I'm the oldest child and with three younger siblings I had to step into that father role for my family." "I hounded him that night, and when I look back now I wish I didn't do it. The dishes he hasn't touched, but the house he plans to buy the family in the coming months will no doubt make up for his lack of involvement with the daily chores. Then one Friday afternoon, after Martin had come out of the shower following a gym session with fellow detainees, his phone rang. Jarome's words from the phone call earlier that week echoed in his mind. "We don’t ask him for help. He's done that all through the juniors, he's an absolute freak and skilful as anything. And it was easy. I was always tough on him, but that day I went too far. "It was pretty tough, but I'd just had a son [Israel]," Luai said. ", Martin Luai, who was released from prison in April, with his son Jarome at the front of their Dharruk home.Credit:Janie Barrett. At first, Martin struggled with self-pity. I felt like shit after that. "I was sweating. Luai credited the tight-knit team at Penrith as well as the coaching and rehab staff at the club for keeping his spirits up, but more than anything it was developments at home that prevented him sitting around feeling sorry for himself. Once the guards all knew I was Jarome’s dad, everyone started teasing me that I was getting special treatment. It hurt because he had so much of an impact on my career, and I know how much he would have loved to have been there. Everyone was half asleep because I kept the whole unit up. Panthers half Jarome Luai experienced the highest and lowest points of his young NRL career in the space of a fortnight, but it was his newborn son that helped him forget about the hard times. He's been a real good role model for me, I've learned a lot off him.". "It's a credit to Jarome, he's a really humble guy and to know he can learn off Jimmy especially then take over his role once Jimmy retires, it's a really good show of faith in the club and what's going on here," Cleary said. Martin wrestles with his son Jarome outside their Dharruk home during the week.Credit:Janie Barrett, "I rang my missus and said, 'Prepare for the worst,' " Martin says. "I grew up around Kiwi people and Samoan people through my mum and my dad. He's incredible.". "We were struggling to put food on the table," Martin recalls. Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald, I will live with the pain for the rest of my life: The Luai bond prison couldn't break. The father of four broke his hand on the rocks at Shelly Beach pulling a drowning Lafaele to safety. Throughout the pre-season, there was much discussion on whether or not the Samoan International was ready for a starting role in the NRL, with many believing he should remain on the bench and allow Matt Burton to partner Nathan Cleary in the halves after impressing in the lower grades. ", Martin Luai and his daughter Alexia watch on at Panthers Stadium as Penrith knocked off the Eels last week thanks to a late try to Jarome.Credit:NRL Photos/Grant Trouville, "But I never blamed him. I was hopping around the house trying to help the missus out! "We weren't making ends meet," he said. Even though I had my reasons, there really isn’t any good enough reason to do what I did. YOUR PICK Select your favourite moment from the hard-fought victory for the chance to win a signed Panthers jersey! I didn’t go looking to do it. The ensuing outpouring of emotion saw several detainees run to his aid, not knowing whether the tears Martin was crying while lying naked on the floor were tears of joy or sadness. The sadness I had was that he couldn't be there to see me make it, given all the hard work we put in together.". This is for you. Even when I was locked up, I thought I was the one suffering. "He's been on fire [at training], he's put on a bit of size as well. Martin trained alongside his son for a decade, but emotion often spilled over as Jarome struggled to live up to the expectations of his father. Then the phone cut out. "And I will live with that pain for the rest of my life. "I know we're struggling, but why? In 2017, Luai captained the junior Kiwis in a loss to Australia and made his Samoan National team debut against Tonga at the Rugby League World Cup, before gaining any NRL experience. Luai joked that, with a mother who plays basketball and a father who plays rugby league, Israel already has options building for a future sporting career. ", Luai laments lesson in emotional grand final loss, ‘I’d do it again’: Shattered Cleary talks through intercept pass, Football factory: The tips, scouts and secrets of Penrith's junior juggernaut, The 30-year formula for success set to deliver a Panthers premiership, The ‘odd couple’: Luai’s confidence fuels Cleary, You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content. "I remember counting my days at the start, thinking to myself, 'If every day is this long, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.' The microwave had given up. He did nothing wrong. Luai’s influence in attack has been splendid, especially when you consider he partners one of the best game controllers in the NRL. It lit a fire inside him and he never took a step back. He took my mind off a lot of things.
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