Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai will hit the open market on November 1 and plenty of halves-needy clubs are set to make a play at the polarising Panther.
The big question that looms is whether Luai will stay at the foot of the mountains for significantly less money than he could fetch from other clubs.
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Penrith have already re-signed Dylan Edwards, Issah Yeo and Liam Martin to long-term deals this season with the likes of Nathan Cleary, Brian To’o and Moses Leota signed till at least 2027.
The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Carayannis believes the shrinking cap space at Penrith may force the club to only be able to offer Luai a deal worth “$800,000-$850,000 per year” whereas he could be tabled a much bigger offer elsewhere.
“His situation at Penrith is that he could get $300k more on the open market per year… He could demand in excess of $1 million a year at another club,” Carayannis said Tuesday on SEN.
“It’s a lot of money to leave on the table so Jarome will have the most interesting conversation around his future.
“There is that stigma around Jarome in that if you take him out of that Penrith system, how good does he look? That’s the same for a lot of those Penrith players but I still think he would easily get over $1 million on the open market.”
Luai re-aggravated a shoulder injury in Penrith’s historic grand final win over Brisbane, and will miss the upcoming Pacific Championships for Samoa.
However that won’t deter rival teams to go hard for him as “halves are so rare” to find according to Carayannis.
“There are clubs who are already struggling with the uncertainty of their halves situation next year.
“The Dragons, the Raiders haven’t replaced Jack Wighton … the Bulldogs and Tigers have signed plenty of halves but are they all genuine long-term six and seven options?
“There are question marks around many clubs.”
Originally published as Jarome Luai’s contract call could cost him $300k in Panthers’ cap squeeze