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Luai preparing to give Panthers glimpse into halves future

Penrith livewire Jarome Luai is hoping a prosperous combination in the under 20s alongside Nathan Cleary four years ago will hold the pair in good stead as they look to cause an upset against Parramatta on Thursday night.

Luai will replace suspended five-eighth James Maloney in the halves for the Battle of the West rematch and the occasion will his first game alongside Cleary since their days of playing together as teenagers in the NYC competition during their premiership-winning 2015 season.

After bursting onto the NRL scene during the representative period last year while Cleary and Maloney were starring for the Blues, Luai is preparing for another fix-it job and has vowed to bring the energy.

"As a side we're trying to find the answers at the moment and we're trying to stay as positive as possible," Luai told

"Hopefully I can add a bit of spark in attack, we haven't scored that many points and I'll be looking to play what I see and give Nathan a bit of space with the team and I'll work off him.

"They're easy fixes and things we can control."

Eels v Panthers - Round 11

Luai extended his contract with the Panthers last season and the 22-year-old believes the opportunity to start could give the coaching staff and fans a glimpse into the club's long-term future in the halves.

Veteran No.6 Maloney has signalled his intentions to move to the UK when his contract expires, leaving Luai as an early front-runner to replace the Australian international.

"This is what Ivan might be waiting for as well, the opportunity to play with Nathan and establish some sort of combination for the future," he said.

"I couldn't imagine the pressure Nathan's going through especially with his dad as coach and he's still learning along the way as well.

"I feel for him, he's one of the blokes out there putting his best foot forward each and every week.

"I want to get out and help him in that sense and try to play my best game for him and the boys."

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.