Reece Walsh and Jarome Luai to lock horns in fiery State of Origin showdown

We’d go a long way to find a pair of pot stirrers more prolific than Jaroma Luai and Reece Walsh.

We’re talking about a guy who insulted a teenager about his mom at a fan day, and another who sledged Brian To’o at his own wedding.

Add them to an emotional venue like State of Origin and it’s like parachuting Reed Mahoney and Peter V’landys into a pack of props and Victorians.

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And with both agitators set to return to the cauldron in 2024 for one of the fiercest series in recent memory – and with a lot to prove – their overstimulated stupidity could reach all-time levels of boredom.

Yes, it’s time to tie your manes and glue on your sled lips, because Origin is about to descend on Grub-Con 2024.

Take nothing away from their ability as footballers, but lippy whippets like Luai and Walsh always have as much opportunity to light up Origin with their hot heads as their legs.

However, they are also a product of the sterile era of the NRL, a time when fighting is performative and hands are reiki.

These days, players have to strike a nerve without throwing any punches, which means they’ve replaced fistfights with professional hecklers circling each other with open eyes and empty insults.

And to be fair, we haven’t seen an outraged soccer mom or legal action in years.

However, the flip side is that mouths like Luai’s and Walsh’s can thrive unchecked simply because you can’t punch people anymore.

The last time they met in the arena, they were both disqualified for head-butting each other in such an exhausted manner that they almost started cheating on each other.

This followed a game between them where Walsh pulled Luai by the hair before running to safety, a move Panther slammed by accusing Walsh of “running away”.

Unfortunately, Luai was knocked out in game three and Walsh was suspended, so we were all left waiting for the next installment of purse flogging.

But now the rematch can continue in the hottest coliseum and both will be snarling like an underfed cougar.

Also remember that both are returning to the big stage for the first time since last year’s Grand Final performance to mixed reviews and various old memes.

Luai won but only after a burst of Panthers points as he left the field while Walsh missed Nathan Cleary’s tackle for the winning try but was a beacon in attack all night.

Both have to prove, which means one to Origin.

When there is a referendum on physicality, the essential points of the game will not be determined by the idealistic nostalgia of the earth-shattering bell ringer or the impulsive Cattleman.

Once again, male peacocks will dominate, ruffling each other’s feathers and, admittedly, maybe a little leg too.

– Dane Eldridge is a warped cynic who longs for the glory days of rugby league, a time when mushrooms were magical and Mondays were crazy. He’s never worn a boot in his life, so he should be taken with a grain of salt.

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