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Blues newcomer Jarome Luai said the feeling he wasn't good enough, and not his passion for Samoa, was behind his view that he'd never play State of Origin football.
Luai was the shock selection among the final seven additions to coach Brad Fittler's 27-man NSW squad after the grand final.
That wasn't because his of his ability – 23 try assists in 23 games this year is testament to that.
But with halves partner Nathan Cleary locked into the No.7 jersey and with Luke Keary and Cody Walker already in the squad, a third five-eighth – one who has played Junior Kiwis and for Samoa at that – seemed unlikely.
Speaking after his side's 26-20 grand final loss to the Storm, a shattered Luai admitted it was not a lack of passion for NSW but a lack of self-belief that kept him from chasing the Origin dream harder.
He said it was a good feeling to be told by Fittler that he had made the squad.
“I'm just really disappointed still but really happy that opportunity has come," Luai said.
“It's probably the highest footy that can be played so really excited to get in there and experience that with the boys. Happy.”
Quizzed on his public comments in support of representing Samoa, Luai added: “that was showing I wanted to play for Samoa, and if NSW popped up I'd be happy to take that opportunity.
“I'm really grateful for that now and I get the chance to go in there, experience something new.
“I think it's something I thought I wasn't good enough to play so I never really thought about it, ever.
“That's what I'm happy about I guess is that opportunity so I'm really grateful for that. It's going to be a good time."
An equally dejected Cleary welcomed the addition of three uncapped Panthers into the Blues squad.
“It's definite a silver lining, all the boys found out after the game, that the four boys made it," Cleary said.
“It's pretty awesome, especially for someone like Romey [Luai], it's his first year in first grade and he gets picked in the Blues squad, it's amazing, I'm super pumped for him.
“People like Isaah Yeo as well and Critter [Stephen Crichton], his first full season too, that's definitely a silver lining out of tonight and I'm very happy for them.” .
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