Blues star Jarome Luai has revealed the taunting that prompted him to scream at fallen rival Felise Kaufusi in a moment that’s since been made famous in a memorable Origin photo.
The skilful Panthers star now admits he has a “target on his back” after the image circulated around the Maroons setup – however he has no regrets over the moment.
He’s told News Corp that he was told he was ‘soft’ by Queensland players after he went down injured early in NSW’s stunning 50-6 victory in Townsville.
Soon after he seized his moment to give it back.
“(They said) ‘you’re soft’, ‘get up’, same sort of crap, so it was good to give some back,” Luai said.
“It was a bit of a memory blank moment, because when I went down (injured) a few of their players had words to say to me.
“It woke me up and got me in the game, it was sort of a ‘let’s go’ mentality.
“I probably put a target on myself to be honest, but I was probably targeted in the first game anyway.
“Nothing is going to change for me in terms of mentality, but it probably will fire them up.
“It wasn’t even after I did something good, it was off a good Junior (Paulo) carry. I was just so pumped and he left a few guys on the ground.”
Luai is used to being the antagoniser, having happily accepted the role of being one of the team’s pests at the Panthers.
And he also thrives off being targeted.
He claims he was brought to life by the Maroons’ sledging in Origin I in Townsville, after copping an accidental knee in the back from Xavier Coates.
The response was emphatic, playing a starring role in the Blues’ biggest win in their history.
“He (Paulo) had a big run and had a good carry and left a few of the boys on the ground. I was so pumped,” Luai said.
“There wasn’t much in it … but it’s probably put a target on myself to be honest.
“But I was probably targeted in the first game as well. So not much is going to change for me in terms of mentality.
“It probably will fire them up and it’s at Suncorp as well, so it’s going to be a different beast.”
Luai will again be named at No.6 in Brad Fittler’s team for Game II on Sunday, with Angus Crichton now appearing likely to be a straight swap for the injured Jake Trbojevic.
It means all the Panthers will again be there, with Liam Martin to hold his spot on the bench after making a statement in Penrith’s Friday night win over the Sydney Roosters.
And they also all know how Luai enjoys being targeted.
“(Queensland) are obviously going to send it back and be angry about that (photo) and try and fire us up,” winger Brian To’o said.
“That only makes us more keen for the next game. Me and my boy will be ready to take it on.
“He loves it, it’s the reason why he plays. It just motivates him to be the player he is today.”
PREDICTED NSW TEAM FOR STATE OF ORIGIN II:
James Tedesco (capt), Josh Addo-Carr Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Brian To’o, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Daniel Saifiti, Damien Cook, Payne Haas, Angus Crichton, Tariq Sims, Isaah Yeo. Bench: Jack Wighton, Junior Paulo, Cameron Murray, Liam Martin.
With AAP’s Scott Bailey