Westpac NSW Blues five-eighth Jarome Luai has not had the easiest of rides into this third Ampol State of Origin campaign, but he’s got the perfect safety net.
As doubts about his form kept generating headlines ahead of Monday’s team announcement, Luai turned to his comfort zone – partner Bailey and daughters Halo, Akira, and Izzy.
“I’ve got three beautiful babies at home and a loving partner, who will always have my back,” Luai told nswrl.com.au
“My partner always knows the right things to say and when to say them. And my babies have kept me sane and I’m so grateful for that.
“They don’t care what I do. They just love me the same. I’m always going to need them and they know that.”
Luai has helped lead Samoa to a World Cup final and won back-to-back NRL Premierships with the Penrith Panthers.
But through it all he has stuck close to his family – in fact parents Martin and Raumako were present when Luai received the call from NSW coach Brad Fittler to come into Origin camp.
“We were moving house last weekend when I got the call. We just dropped everything, and my parents were there, so everyone heard at the same time,” Luai said.
“They all know the stress and attention that’s been around me and my position (in the team).
“They were just really happy for me and I was really happy as well.”
Luai knows how to not let the outside noise interfere with his skills as a Rugby League player.
“The footy is the easy thing. I find it 90 percent mental and if I get that right, everything off the back of that will fall into place,” he said.
“I’m a big believer in that. I used to just turn up, put my boots on, and run out onto the field.
“But these days and with a growing family, I try to get my mental side right and it will all be fine.”