The Penrith Panthers have been rocked by a 'catastrophic' blow just two weeks before the NRL finals, with Jarome Luai facing the possibility of not playing again this season. The Panthers five-eighth suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first half of their shock loss to Parramatta on Thursday night in a major dent to Penrith's minor premiership hopes.
Bryce Cartwright twisted Luai awkwardly while attempting to hold him up in-goal. The Panthers five-eighth remained on the ground after the tackle was completed, cradling his left arm.
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Luai left the field and played no further part in the game, but the Panthers said his shoulder popped back into place in the dressing rooms. He underwent scans on Friday, which revealed 'significant damage' to the shoulder. However Luai has avoided surgery and the Panthers are hoping he will be back in four weeks - which would allow him to play the preliminary final (if the Panthers make it).
Speaking after Thursday night's game, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary conceded they might be without Luai for the remainder of the season. "Absolutely," he said. "It's a decent injury but (medical staff) are fairly positive about the potential of it. Really, we're not going to know until he gets scans.
"(It is disappointing) on both fronts, on the team front and for 'Romey' personally. But that's the way it goes sometimes. There's often lot of injuries at this time of year in and around finals."
NRL Physio Brien Seeney reported that even a minor shoulder dislocation with no significant structural damage will require 3-6 weeks of rehab. The Panthers play the Cowboys next week in the final round of the regular season before the finals begin the week after that.
Confirmed shoulder dislocation for Jarome Luai, classic landing on outstretched arm mechanism. General recovery guide:
- minimal structural damage & joint stable: rehab for 3-6 weeks
- significant damage/joint unstable & immediate reconstruction surgery required: 3+ months pic.twitter.com/9PW5zcpkt5
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) August 24, 2023
In commentary for Fox Sports, Michael Ennis said the Luai injury “could be a catastrophic blow for Penrith”. Andrew Voss said: “It hurts to watch. You heard the call ‘shoulder, shoulder’ and it shows the respect, the beauty of our sport.
“In the heat of battle, the opponents were aware he was in trouble. This is a sad sight for the Panthers, one of their main men.”
Billy Slater added on Channel 9: “When your hand hits the ground and slides out and someone lands on top, that’s not a good sign for Jarome Luai. He knows what’s going on, the face tells the story in these situations.”
Jack Cogger ready to step up in Jarome Luai's absence
Jack Cogger will most likely take Luai's place in the halves and said he is ready to step up. "You're obviously shattered when you see a teammate go off with what could be a serious injury," Cogger said. "Knowing Romey, he's pretty tough and he'll bounce back but it's never good to see your teammates go off the field."
"I knew what my job was when I came here. I could've played one game, I could've played the whole year depending on what happened.
"I've done the work, this was what I was here to do, in case one of the boys went down or over the Origin period, someone to step in and the team not to lose any momentum. If that is the case, I'm confident I can do the job."
Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary also threw his support behind Cogger. "Coggs has played enough first grade through his career to know what to do," Cleary said.
"He's got a cool head on his shoulders. I hope that Romey's all right but I have a lot of faith that me and Coggs can get the job done."
Ouch! As a Warriors fan, good for us with Penrith losing this game and Luai being a big part of their game, but always sad to see players getting injured
— Bearded J (@Bearded_J_NZ) August 24, 2023
sad about luai💔💔💔💔💔💔
— bella (@itsbelladee) August 24, 2023
Poor Luai that was awful to watch 🤢
— Picasstonian (@hf2_0_2_) August 24, 2023
So Luai is injured. That is dreadful. So very sad. Going to be very difficult.
— Jennifer Short (@JenniferSh93445) August 24, 2023
Parramatta victory comes one weeks too late
Penrith's loss to Parramatta means the Broncos now have a huge chance to claim the minor premiership. Equal on points with Penrith coming into Round 26, the Broncos can seal the minor gong with wins over Canberra and Melbourne in their final two games.
Parramatta's win also keeps their extremely faint finals hopes alive, although they would need a number of other upset results to go their way in order to sneak in. "I don't know whether to cry or smile," coach Brad Arthur said after the game.
"We're going to miss out by a game. We fought until the end, we fought every game. But it's better to finish this way and the hurt will be there even more knowing that we just had to find one more win somewhere.
"I know what the team can do if we get in the eight. I'm sure there's probably a few teams that were glad that we're not in the eight. We're going to have to wear it."
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