David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Rugby League: Thomas Leuluai denies link to St Helens

Five-eighth Thomas Leuluai has reinforced his commitment to the Warriors and dismissed reports linking him to a return to the UK Super League with St Helens. Photo / Getty Images
Five-eighth Thomas Leuluai has reinforced his commitment to the Warriors and dismissed reports linking him to a return to the UK Super League with St Helens. Photo / Getty Images

Five-eighth Thomas Leuluai has reinforced his commitment to the Warriors and dismissed reports linking him to a return to the UK Super League with St Helens.

Leuluai played eight seasons in the Super League with the London Broncos (2005-06) and Wigan (2007-12) and has been open about the fact that together with his English wife, Natalie, and their young baby, the family would likely return to the UK some day.

However, the 30-year-old is contracted to the Warriors until the end of next season and denies having spoken to St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham about cutting short his time in Auckland in the NRL to take up a big money deal from 2017.

Leuluai insists he is happy in New Zealand and is desperate to get some solid playing time with the Warriors after recently returning from the ACL injury that ended his 2015 season.

"I don't know where that's come from," Leuluai said of the St Helens rumours.

"I suppose people put it together with me having a kid and a wife from England.

"I've seen people are talking about it and they know that eventually I'll go back but I haven't talked to anyone at St Helens.

"I'm really enjoying my time [at the Warriors]. I've got this year and next year.

"Obviously, I've been struggling a bit with injuries the last couple of years so I just want to be back playing and that's all I've been focusing on."

After playing 31 minutes off the bench at lock in the round six defeat to Manly, Leuluai was not expecting to play five-eighth in last week's win over the Bulldogs, until Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's own ACL injury forced a backline reshuffle.

I'm really enjoying my time [at the Warriors]. I've got this year and next year.
Thomas Leuluai

With Tui Lolohea moving to fullback, Leuluai was thrust back into the halves alongside Shaun Johnson and will wear the No6 jersey in the Anzac Day clash against the Storm.

"I played 60-odd minutes last week and the body's taken a bit longer to recover from that as I haven't done much for 11 months," he said.

"It took me a little bit to find my groove and I hadn't trained in the halves at all so when I first got chucked in there it was a bit of a shock.

"It's a bit of a step up and it's come a bit sooner than I thought but I'm just going to go with it."

The prospect of being chosen for the Kiwis' upcoming transtasman test against the Kangaroos was not at the forefront of his mind, but Leuluai admits he would jump at the opportunity should his form warrant selection.

"I've just wanted to get back on the field, but, like I've always said, if I get picked I'll never turn it down.

"I'll have to play a few more minutes to get in that team, there's a few guys pushing, but we'll have to see what [Kiwis coach] Stephen [Kearney] does there."

- NZ Herald

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