Panthers star Jarome Luai's pride in representing all aspects of his family background may have played a minor role in his character in a rugby league-themed comic.
Luai is one of dozens of NRL players to feature in Rugby Blood II, a creation of former Melbourne Storm prop Keith Mason, who has cast the gifted playmaker as a triple agent and renowned escape artist.
Luai represented the Maori All Stars in the 10-10 draw with the Indigenous All Stars on Saturday night and is also a proud wearer of the Samoan jersey. Add to that his inclusion in the NSW squad for last year's State of Origin series.
"I’m a big fan of anime and superheroes, so it is pretty cool," Luai said. "I was shown a photo of how I looked and I was stoked.
"I have got pretty big muscles and it looks pretty close to what I look like so I was pretty shocked at how good I look. There are some big-name players in it so I’m pretty keen to see how it looks when it comes out."
Panthers halves partner Nathan Cleary, Canberra five-eighth Jack Wighton and Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr also have prominent roles in Rugby Blood II, which will be published as a series of installments online and in paperback.
"These guys aren’t just rugby league players, they work as agents," Mason said. "Without giving too much away, Jarome is a suspected triple agent.
"Jarome is a fantastic player, he is very flamboyant and I found out he is a massive comic book fan too.
"I’ve matched the skills of the players with the story. Nathan Cleary is a brilliant kicker, Jarome is very evasive and Josh Addo-Carr has got great speed. He has got a pretty good role in the comic book too."
While Addo-Carr is not due to join Canterbury until next year, his character is an undercover operative within the Bulldogs ranks who leads the club to premiership success in his first season.
Australian comedian Adam Hills and former NRL stars Gorden Tallis, Ruben Wiki and Adrian Morley are others to feature in Rugby Blood II, in which they help David King, based on Mason, fight high level sports corruption.
The graphic novels are written and illustrated by David Bircham, and will be available by subscription.
"Keith played for the Storm and he played about 250 games in Super League," Luai said of the former Wales international, who turned to acting in retirement after a chance meeting with Mickey Rourke following the 2009 Challenge Cup final.
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"He reached out to me and said that with my permission he would like to us in his graphic novels. I am a big fan of anime and that sort of stuff so I was very keen to see how it all looked. It’s pretty exciting."
Luai represented his mother’s Maori heritage and play alongside childhood idol Benji Marshall in the All Stars match at Townsville’s CQB Stadium on Saturday night.