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‘He had a massive impact’: NRL villain shows his true colours amid grand final celebrations

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Penrith Panthers star Jarome Luai may rub plenty of people the wrong way, but the three-time premiership winner has shown who he really is after the full-time siren at the NRL Grand Final.

Luai watched the final quarter of the match from the sidelines after his injured shoulder lost power in the second half but got to watch the Nathan Cleary-inspired comeback from the best seats in the house.

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While Panthers fans love their premiership winning, representative star, Luai has proven a tougher sell across the rest of the league.

The 26-year-old is an often controversial figure, having been savaged over social media posts, standover tactics in matches and the infamous best man speech at Brian To’o’s wedding.

But while Luai appears to revel in the villain tag, his post-grand final interaction with helicopter crash survivor Nicholas Tadros has shown his true colours.

Tadros’ mother died and he had his leg amputated in a helicopter crash at Sea World on the Gold Coast in January that killed four people.

Tadros is a huge Panthers fan and was invited into the Penrith change rooms after the match to celebrate with the players.

In a video shared on social media, Luai was seen embracing the youngster.

“Good to see you big boy,” Luai said as he hugged Tadros. “Check out the ring, take it off my finger.”

He then get Tadros to try it on as they joked about how big it was on his finger.

Luai with Tadros. Photo: TwitterSource: Twitter
Luai has plenty of bling. Photo: NRL PHOTOSSource: The Daily Telegraph

Tadros told 2GB radio on Monday: “He (Luai) said to me that I’m a ‘legend and an inspiration’. He said ‘here, carry my ring, it’s pretty cool’.

“He started laughing because I said ‘it’s big on me’ cause he let me try it. Then he said ‘I love you’.”

Tadros’ father Simon said: “It was an amazing night. We were lucky enough to be invited by the NRL to go watch the game and what a game it was.”

But that’s not where the story began.

After the horrific crash, Luai visited Tadros in hospital several times and helped turn the youngster around in his recovery.

“He (Luai) had a massive impact,” Simon told Ben Fordham on 2GB.

“Nicky was in a very dark place for quite a while which was understandable with what he was going through.

“He wasn’t talking to anyone and we couldn’t turn him around. We reached out to the Penrith Panthers and to Jarome Luai to see if he can come and visit Nick. To Jarome’s credit, he came through and visited Nick.

“From that day on, it turned Nicholas around and he started talking again and it put a smile on his face. From there, the positivity we just started building on it.

“Once he (Luai) saw Nicholas he straight away called him over and gave him a hug and started talking to him. The fact that Jarome has gone out of his way on numerous occasions to be there for Nick, it just goes to show the kind of person that Jarome is.”

Luai visited Tadros in hospital. Photo: Penrith PanthersSource: Supplied
Luai is a good dude. Photo: Penrith PanthersSource: Supplied

Luai wasn’t the only one either with coach Ivan Cleary sharing a sweet moment with Nicholas.

But after the sweet moment, Luai couldn’t help but take an aim at one of his controversies from earlier in the year.

After winning the grand final, he posted a picture of himself with winger Sunia Turuva with the caption: “Who’s got work tomorrow?”

It comes after his Origin II post where he posted: “Chill. All you idiots have work tomorrow morning,” along with seven crying laughing emojis, a post which didn’t go down well with fans.

Luai has often been portrayed as a villain in the NRL but leading up to the grand final, he said he’d do whatever he needed to do to help his team win.

“I thought a villain was a guy who killed people. I’m not a murderer. I haven’t broken any rules,” he said via the SMH.

“I do what I need to do for my team to win. I create that energy and if that’s what it is, then that’s me in a nutshell – a villain.”

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