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When it comes to life in the rugby league spotlight, Jarome Luai and Latrell Mitchell have had their fair share of media attention and controversy, but it’s their similarities that are also driving their connection ahead of Game Two.

The Blues duo often dubbed ‘polarising figures’, Luai and Mitchell have not only found a connection off the field but have rekindled the edge combination that helped steer the Blues to a series victory in 2021.

“I guess what I've been through and what he's been through, I can relate to him off the field,” Luai told media on Monday.

“I know people use the word ‘polarising’ and I think we're definitely in the spotlight of the media a lot and how we sort of hold ourselves, and I think that's why we get along so well.

“He's a big family dude just like me and at the end of the day, we just want to do what's best for our families.

“We've got the same management as well so we see each other a lot, we do a lot for the community together as well. He's a good energy man and that’s what I love about him.

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“I think our relationship will help that on Wednesday and you can't really hear each other, but you when you see each other you know it’s on.”

It’s been three years since the pair lined up alongside each other in Game Two of the 2021 series, with Mitchell ruled out with injury in 2022 and '23.

After shutting out the Maroons 26-0 in Brisbane to secure a series win in 2021, Luai knows what the South Sydney superstar is capable of in the Origin arena and the influence he can have on the Blues’ performance.

“I think automatically if he's out there, you have to think about him and what he can do as an individual,” Luai said.

“There’s only a few players as gifted as that and if he turns up ready to rock, we go.

“I'm next to him so I think that's a big responsibility of mine, is to unlock Latrell and what he can do.

“And I've done that before so it gives me confidence in knowing that I can do that for him and for our team.

“Whatever the defence is throwing at us, I’ve got a guy like Angus Crichton outside me as well and he's been playing crazy out there out there with the Roosters.

“So I've got some weapons that I need to unlock and I've got my own running game so I’ll definitely have some options there.”

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When it comes to players generating headlines, Maroons fullback Reece Walsh has been a hot topic of conversation since being ruled out of Game One following a high shot from Joseph Sua'ali'i.

Luai said despite the ongoing build-up surrounding the fullback’s return in Game Two, the target on the No.1 gun hasn’t changed ahead of Wednesday.

“I know it's been spoken about a lot, the fact that they think we have a target on his head,” Luai said.

“But being the type of player he is with what he can do on the field, we're going to have a target on him already.

“So you can't go on half-arsed, you can't go out at 50 per cent, we've got to do what we've always planned to do which is just restricting with what he can do.”

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.