NRL: Thomas Leuluai signs for Wigan

Thomas Leuluai at a New Zealand Warriors NRL training session at Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Thomas Leuluai at a New Zealand Warriors NRL training session at Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

New Zealand international Thomas Leuluai has re-signed for Wigan Warriors after four years playing in the NRL.

The utility player, 31, will finish his on-field career with the Super League club and then take up a coaching role.

Currently with the New Zealand Warriors, Leulaui previously spent six years with Wigan, winning the Grand Final in 2010 and the Challenge Cup in 2011.

"When I knew Wigan were interested, it was a no-brainer," he told the BBC.

"With my wife being from Wigan and us having a new-born baby, I thought for my family it would be better for us to be back in England.

"I've got a lot of close friends at Wigan and I really love the club and its history," he added.

Leuluai was granted a release from the last year of his contract on compassionate grounds enabling him to return to England at the end of the 2016 NRL season.

"Tommy is contracted until the end of next season but he approached us some time ago asking for a release so he and his family could return to England," said Warriors managing director Jim Doyle.

"While we were certainly keen to see him play out the term of his contract, Tommy has always made it clear he would go back to England at some stage.

"His leadership qualities and professionalism have been invaluable but we understand his desire to return to England and take comfort from the fact we have a number of options in his positions.

"For now he's fully committed and passionate about giving the Vodafone Warriors all he can for the rest of this season."

Leuluai said he was grateful to the club for clearing the way for him to take his English-born wife Natalie and their baby daughter back to the United Kingdom.

"My intention was to see out my time here," he said.

"I've loved being in familiar surroundings even though we've had our share of challenges but we've reached a point where we would like to go back.

"I can't thank the Warriors enough for their understanding with this. Jim and Cappy (Andrew McFadden) have been fantastic about it."

Leuluai is the second youngest NRL debutant in the Warriors' history. He was six weeks short of his 18th birthday when he played his first game against Canterbury Bankstown in May, 2003.

He played his 77th match for the Warriors in their 27-18 win over the Gold Coast Titans at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.

It was his 304th first-grade appearance overall following 189 games for Wigan from 2007-2012 and 38 for the London Broncos/Harlequins from 2005-2006.

Leuluai has also played 34 Tests for the Kiwis since his debut in 2003.

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