NSW bolter Jarome Luai has revealed learning of his shock State of Origin selection while Penrith were watching Melbourne receive their NRL grand final rings.
The Panthers were still grappling with the heartbreak of losing the decider when NSW coach Brad Fittler told Luai he was part of the Blues' 27-man squad to face Queensland over the next month.
The Penrith five-eighth was one of four players selected from the grand finalists, including halfback Nathan Cleary, boom centre Stephen Crichton, and underrated lock Isaah Yeo.
"He grabbed me when we were seeing Melbourne Storm get their awards and stuff. He tipped me up there. I was really grateful but disappointed at the same time," Luai said.
"I wasn't sure whether to be happy or sad.
"But I'm just really shattered right now, man. The GF is something you rarely come by, not much words can say."
Three players were added from the newly crowned premiers, including incumbents Josh Addo-Carr and Dale Finucane, as well as new face and Clive Churchill medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen.
The Storm fullback is one of nine players in the squad who have yet to make their Origin debuts.
But it was the inclusion of Luai that surprised many in the league community, having pledged his international allegiance to Samoa as recently as a fortnight ago.
His selection raises doubts over the fitness of Sydney Roosters pivot Luke Keary, who will need to undergo concussion testing during camp before being made available.
Fittler also has South Sydney star Cody Walker, and Canberra and Dally M medallist Jack Wighton as possible options to partner likely No.7 Nathan Cleary in the halves.
Eligibility laws meant Luai, a western Sydney product, is also a chance of pulling on the sky blue.
"It's something that I thought I wasn't good enough to play so I never really thought about it ever. That's what I'm happy about, that opportunity. Really grateful for that," he said.
Pressed on his comments about Samoa, Luai said: "That was just showing that I wanted to play for Samoa.
"And if NSW popped up, then I'd be happy to take that opportunity. Really grateful for that now and I get the chance to go in there, experience something new."
Fittler said Luai had always been in consideration given Penrith's remarkable run to the decider.
"His games have been awesome over the last couple of weeks. He's been one of the most energetic players. You know what energy is like around camps as well," Fittler told Nine Network.
"He wouldn't know anyone other than his three teammates. He's bagged plenty of them on the field. Somehow he has to come and make teammates, make some friends and give us everything that he is.
"What I see is a sprightly kid who loves his footy."
Australian Associated Press