Bulldogs make late push to sign Panthers’ Jarome Luai ahead of Tigers

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
30/11/2023
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Bulldogs attempting to make shock move for Jarome Luai

Canterbury Bulldogs have joined Wests Tigers in the race to sign Penrith Panthers’ Jarome Luai. Bulldogs reportedly held a “secret meeting” with Luai this week. 

News Insights

  • Bulldogs have held talks over a move for Luai.
  • Tigers have offered Luai a $4.5m contract.
  • Panthers are willing to accept a swap deal for Luai.
  • Luai is ready to leave Panthers.

Wests Tigers now have some competition in the race to sign Penrith Panthers’ Jarome Luai. The Daily Telegraph is now reporting that the Canterbury Bulldogs have officially entered the competition.  
 
Bulldogs have reportedly held “secret meetings” with Luai. Tigers, meanwhile, have offered Luai a $4.5m contract. 

Bulldogs looking to gazump Tigers 

Jarome Luai is the biggest name who could agree to a move before the start of the 2024 NRL season. All off-season long, rumours have swirled about where he would be playing in the 2025 season. In recent weeks, just one team has emerged as a legit contender for his signature; Wests Tigers. That all changed this week.  
 
The Daily Telegraph is now reporting that Canterbury Bulldogs have made serious efforts to secure Luai’s signature. Bulldogs general manager Phil Gould has reportedly spoken with Luai in a “secret meeting” earlier this week to discuss a move to Belmore.  
 
A number of Luai’s former Panthers teammates are also trying to woo the five-eighth. Stephen Crichton, Viliame Kikau, Matt Burton, and Jaeman Salmon will surely do all they can to make Luai a Bulldog. The Canterbury club’s current head coach also has Panthers ties Cameron Ciraldo was an assistant coach at Panthers.  
 
Unlike in the case of Tigers, there is no reporting on how much Bulldogs are willing to offer Luai. Club officials are reportedly still holding talks over whether to actually sign Luai. This rumour will be one to watch in coming weeks.

Tigers leading the race

News of Bulldogs’ secret meeting with Luai has many Tigers fans worried about their chances of signing their man, but reportedly, they should not be so worried. According to recent reports, Tigers are still leading the race to sign Luai. The club has offered him a $4.5m contract over four years. They also have a leg up because of their manager Benji Marshall.  
 
The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio told SEN radio that Marshall has an ability to “woo and sell the dream to Luai,” and that Luai has recently visited Marshall’s home to discuss a move to Tigers seriously. All of this points to a move being agreed to soon.  
 
If Luai does agree to the Tigers’ contract offer, Panthers will have 10 days to convince Luai to stay. Reports now claim Panthers would not put up much of a fight as they have accepted Luai will leave soon. 

Swap move on the table for Panthers 

If Luai does leave, he would not be the first star player to leave the Penrith club. However, it is looking very likely that he will be one of the rare few they let leave on a swap deal.  
 
In recent years, Panthers have held their players until the end of their contract. Stephen Crichton, Spencer Leniu, Api Koriosau, Villiame Kikau, Matt Burton all finished their contracts with Penrith before moving on to their new clubs. 
 
They now seem ready to buck that trend and let Luai join Tigers for the 2024 season. Multiple reports now claim Panthers are willing to swap Luai for Tigers prop and youngster Lachlan Galvin.  
 
Whether it is a swap deal or simply agreeing to a contract for 2025 onwards, it is looking very likely Luai will not be a Panther much longer.

Panthers are currently favourites to win the NRL at the betting sites. Losing Luai will definitely hurt their chances this season, but it likely would not be enough to dethrone them from the top. Tigers, however, may finally see themselves off the bottom of the list if they manage to sign Luai.