Penrith are confident they can put friction with Jarome Luai to one side and sort out a new contract despite the star five-eighth thumbing his nose at coach Ivan Cleary with an Instagram post.
A day after Cleary warned Luai should be careful what he wishes for if he takes up a more lucrative deal elsewhere to become a chief playmaker, the controversial Samoan international posted “know your worth” on social media on a photo of himself.
Added to the post was US rapper 50 Cent’s “Hustler’s Ambition” from Get Rich Or Die Tryin’.
The not-so-subtle return serve at Cleary came after the triple premiership-winning coach questioned whether the 26-year-old could handle being a team’s main on-field general.
Luai is expected to field offers of close to $1.1 million a season from rivals, who are desperate for talent in the halves as a chief playmaker, something he has not had to do at Penrith with childhood teammate Nathan Cleary alongside him.
“I think that’s that’s the biggest thing at play here,” Ivan Cleary said with the Panthers offering a two-year extension worth around $1.7 million.
“If any club wants to (offer) the money, we’re talking, probably the money that he may consider leaving (for), it would have to be for that kind of role. Is he ready for that? That’s a question mark. Could he do it? I’m sure he can do it.
“Has he done it? No, he hasn’t. He’s done a little bit with Samoa of course at last year’s World Cup. But generally speaking, in this team he’s had his role to play. So it would be slightly different. So I guess that’s a risk that everyone would have to take.”
Penrith are adamant they will not rush Luai’s contract negotiations, which loom as the biggest piece of the salary cap puzzle.
Club director Greg Alexander was insistent on Friday there was no split between Luai and Cleary.
“I would say the relationship between Ivan and Jarome is strong enough for the comments Ivan made not to have any impact on Jarome’s decision, whether he stays or doesn’t,” Alexander said on SEN.
“It’s not the normal player-coach relationship. It’s a bit deeper than that.”