Warriors sign Thomas Leuluai for three seasons

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 10/08/2014
Thomas Leuluai
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SIGNED AND SEALED: Thomas Leuluai is extending his time with the New Zealand Warriors.

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Warriors playmaker Thomas Leuluai has put pen to paper on a deal that will secure his future at the club until the end of the 2017 season.

There had been rumours coming from the UK that Leuluai was looking to head back to Wigan because his English partner, Natalie Goulding was homesick.

Last week Leuluai rubbished those suggestions and true to his word, he has agreed a new deal that will keep him with the club until he's 32.

Leuluai started his career at the Warriors, making his debut in 2003, but two years later headed to the Super League where he played for London and Wigan. He returned to Auckland at the start of last season.

His current contract doesn't run out until the end of next season but he said he was happy to remain in Auckland and settle his long-term future.

"‘While I've had a frustrating season personally I couldn't be happier being back home," he said, referring to the groin injury he's had which has limited his appearances to just seven this season.

"I always wanted to come back to not only play in the NRL but to play for my original club.

"I think we're in great shape. It's impressive how much the club has grown since I first started here.

"We've got a really good squad, fantastic talent coming through and outstanding facilities. We don't want for anything.

"As players we love the job Cappy (Andrew McFadden) and the coaching staff are doing."

McFadden said he was delighted to be able to hold on to one of the team's key leaders on and off the field.

"Everything he does is of the highest quality," McFadden said.

"While he has missed a fair bit of football lately he has still contributed massively as one of our captains through his professionalism and competitiveness.

"Having Tommy on board to the end of 2017 is critical to our progress."

Leuluai will play in the halves with Chad Townsend against the Sharks today, with Shaun Johnson still absent because of his groin problem and while he decision to extend his stay with the club can only be seen as a positive, it does add to the bottleneck stopping the progress of the younger players coming through.

Tuimoala Lolohea, is a young player with exceptional talent, but with Johnson also signed up long term, his game time could be limited.

Of course, Leuluai could move to hooker, but that would stifle the progress of Siliva Havili.

Havili played for the Kiwis in the Anzac Test in April and has been talked up by the club as their No 9 for the future but he has been languishing in reserve grade footy since the beginning of June.

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Having plenty of players to pick from is the perfect scenario for a coach, but the young players do need to see there is a clear pathway to progress for them and that's something will need to manage.

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