Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Last Sunday night Jarome Luai was, unfortunately, unable to cap off a breakout season with a premiership ring; however, he may very well go on to have one of the most impactful International Rugby League careers for Samoa we’ve ever seen.
Throughout this season, the Samoan International scored seven tries. He would also get 23 try assists, as well as 20 line-break assists. Luai also managed to make 455 tackles with an efficiency rate of 83.9%.
Despite being selected in the 2020 New South Wales State of Origin squad, Luai has publicly stated that his loyalty lies with Samoa.
The Panthers’ five-eighth will prove to be a crucial component in the growth of Samoa as a Rugby League powerhouse, and may one day join the likes of Junior Seau, Mark Hunt, Tim Cahill and the Anoa’i Family as a highly celebrated sports athlete of Samoan descent.
To this point Luai has only played three games for Toa Samoa, making his international debut in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, where the Samoans lost to arch-rivals Tonga and most recently partaking in a loss against Fiji in 2019.
Assuming the 23-year-old sticks to his word and remains loyal to Samoa for the duration of what is sure to be a long Rugby League career, then Samoa’s potential is limitless. If players such as David Nofoaluma, Hymel Hunt, Jayden Su’a and Jarome Luai sustain their current form consistently next season, and the likes of Anthony Milford, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Martin Taupau can get back to their best, then there is good reason to believe in Samoa as a Rugby League World Cup contender in 2021.
Samoa has qualified for six Rugby League World Cups including 2021, only ever getting as far as the quarter-finals which they have done on three occasions.
A solid Samoan team, led by Luai, are a chance against the best of them in next year’s World Cup and for many years to come.
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup will kick-off on the 23rd of October, as competition hosts England take on Toa Samoa at St. James’ Park before the Samoans take on Greece and France later in the tournament.