SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 02: Jarome Luai of the Panthers celebrates with the Samoa flag after victory in the 2022 NRL Grand Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at Accor Stadium on October 02, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

In the ever-shifting landscape of NRL contracts and potential team movements, three-time premiership winner Jarome Luai finds himself at the centre of attention as the highest-profile player to hit the open market.

Likely to remain with the Panthers for the 2024 season, speculation looms over Luai's future, with the Wests Tigers long identified as potential leading contenders for his signature in 2025.

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Wests Tigers coach Benji Marshall, a playmaking icon in his own right, has expressed a commitment to addressing the team's spine issues with an emphasis on using the current roster.

Marshall hasn't written off the appeal of a player like Luai, but is adopting a discreet approach to recruitment with an aim to shield his players from undue scrutiny and pressure as they navigate the upcoming season. The Tigers are haunted by the spectre of a potential third consecutive wooden spoon.

Speaking to Perth Now, Marshall said "All players that come into the market, you've got to have a look at, especially if they're marquee players (like Luai). But we've signed halves, we've got four halves for the season going into it. We'll prioritise that at the moment."

Jarome Luai, reportedly offered $850,000 per year to remain with the Panthers, faces a decision that could reshape his career and the fortunes of the teams vying for his services.

The Dragons and Bulldogs have also surfaced as potential destinations for the talented playmaker.

Adding intrigue to the situation is Luai's childhood connection to the Wests Tigers, having grown up as a fan and idolising Marshall.

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Aidan Sezer, Jayden Sullivan and promising recruit Latu Fainu are currently in the hunt for the two halves positions. Adam Doueihi is the fourth prospect but is expected to miss significant time next season with his knee injury. If rehab goes well, he could return to the selection frame before 2024 is out.

With notable departures from the Tigers, including Luke Brooks to Manly and Daine Laurie, who returns to the Penrith Panthers, Marshall faces the challenge of reshaping the team's dynamic and will be heaping even more pressure onto his back if the chance to sign Jarome Luai comes, and goes.