Jarome Luay has announced his intention to take on the Cowboys next week as the Panthers are tipped to rest most of their squad for their final regular season game in Townsville.
The Panthers have just completed their second minor premiership in three years and will not need to deal with injuries nearing the final, but Lui, who returned on Friday night after missing four games with a knee injury, will want to play.
Coach Evan Cleary may not let him, but at least five-eighths are keen.
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“I want to play every week. If the body is right, I am raising my hand to play,” he said.
“I’m going back to ‘Iv’s’ office this week so he knows I’m sweet to play. I’m sure the coach has a plan so we’ll see what happens.
What the Panthers do next week could come down to what happens in the waiting room on Saturday, as the Panthers push for a minor premiership and a week off for the first round of the finals.
They are welcome this week and will need the third-seeded Bulldogs to knock off the ladder-leading Jets to sneak into first place.
If that happens, Cleary can call up as many players as he wants from the NSW Cup squad, knowing they won’t be needed for the finals.
“I’ve got a few plans, but we’ll just see how everybody gets on,” said Creary, with the Panthers set to fly everyone back from Townsville on Saturday night.
“We’ve been in a good position for a while. We’ll sleep on it and see how everyone gets up. Then we will do what we do.
“I’ve never been one to lay people off, but every situation is different and every year is different. There are many factors that go into it.
Louie was on a roll that was important to him before the final game in a 46-12 demolition of the Warriors.
The representative five-eighth was not expected back for another week but returned early for the second consecutive year after a similar knee injury kept him out of the third starting game last year.
“I felt really good, I had a lot of confidence all week and I got a lot of reps and the guys tested me a lot in training and I was sure I wouldn’t miss the game,” Luay said.
“It was worse. [than last year]. This time I completely tore it apart not to worry.
“My missus cooks me a good meal at home so that might help.
“I’m a quick healer who is very grateful to be back on the field playing with the kids.
“I’m fresh, I took it as a bit of a blessing in disguise that I had two weeks off. His body was a bit battered but he was very grateful to have made it to the finals.
Lui has been warned for the rest of the season that he and fellow halves Nathan Cray have not been able to play together since round 19 but will not be rusty come the finals.
Last week it was just me and him doing a lot of rehearsals.
“There aren’t many guys in recovery so we spent a bit of time together chatting about things on the field.
“People take it as a negative when you’re out for two weeks, but it feels great to be in the final.”