Jarome Luai should be picked ahead of Cameron Munster at five-eighth for Australia.
That’s the word from Phil Gould and Paul Gallen who have omitted a swathe of Queensland talent from their prospective Kangaroos squad.
Of the 18 men to make up Australia’s national representative team, Gould and Gallen have just three Queenslanders among the ranks, with the bulk made up of Brad Fittler’s 2021 Origin-winning Blues.
Of the three Maroons chosen, just one – Felise Kaufusi – has been given a starting position, with Jai Arrow and Munster sitting on the bench.
But it’s Luai’s promotion to the No.6 jersey ahead of Munster that may raise eyebrows.
Gould assures that while Munster has proven himself as one of the game’s best, a lack of football this season has seen him drop form.
It’s a trend headlined by a lacklustre Origin display across game one and two, and an increasing amount of “niggle” creeping into his game.
“If it’s purely an Australian team based on the form we’ve seen from these past two games, then Jarome Luai would be my five-eighth, Munster on the bench and dominated by Blues, deservedly so,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy.
“He looks frustrated as a footballer, I don’t think he’s battle-hardened. He’s had a number of weeks off with injury, he came into Origin underdone, played poorly on the end of a wrong scoreline. He hasn’t been enough with his Melbourne side to sure up all those little disciplines and things that used to be in his game. He’s come back into another Origin team and played poorly again.
“I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt because he was easily the best player in Australia last season. But from what we’ve seen, Jarome Luai had far more influence on that Origin series than Cameron Munster has.”
Gould’s assessment couldn’t come at a more timely crossroads for Luai, with Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga confirming today he’ll reach out to the gun Panther over the possibility of representing Australia.
Under the game’s international eligibility laws, players can play Origin and still commit to a tier-two nation on the world stage, which in Luai’s case is NSW and Samoa. He has previously expressed their desire to play for Samoa in the World Cup at the end of the year.
“Jarome is at the start of his career and I’d like to think he will make himself available for Australia,” Meninga told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’ve made it known in the past if a player can play Origin, they should then make themselves available for Australia.
“I’m keen to speak with Jarome and let him know what my feelings and thoughts are about the international game. I’m also keen to hear his thoughts and reasons for wanting to play for Samoa. I can tell you he’s absolutely in the mix for Australia.”
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