NZ Warriors' Thomas Leuluai told to take it easy

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2013
Thomas Leuluai
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STRAIN PAIN: A lingering groin injury will keep Thomas Leuluai sidelined until next year.

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Warriors five-eighth Thomas Leuluai won't have an operation but has been told to rest up ahead of next season.

The 28-year-old only saw three minutes of action at the World Cup because of a groin injury and since returning to New Zealand has been told by the Warriors' medical staff to take a complete break before heading into camp with the team in the new year.

"It is an overuse injury and he's doing what's best for it right now and that's resting," Warriors coach Matt Elliott told Sunday News.

"He played every minute of every game for us during the season and he probably pushed himself a bit hard to get ready for the Kiwis and it created an osteitis pubis injury.

"He will be fine when he comes back to training. I have been keeping in contact with him and he's got a lot of high-quality treatment."

The Warriors had 14 players at the World Cup, with only Les Catalans (19) and the Roosters (16) having more.

Elliott said all of his players who went to England would be given the appropriate down time before integrating back into the squad.

"They have got six weeks after their last game, so they get back mid-January," he said.

"It is part of the collective bargaining agreement.

"We have had a couple of them come around to show their face at training, but seeing as we started training in October last year it's been a long 12 months for them and they're having a much needed break.

"We've got a couple of camps when the guys come back," Elliott added.

"It was planned around getting them integrated back into training. They certainly won't be coming back into full-on training, we'll slowly ramp everything up, like we did with the boys who've already come back this year.

"We feel comfortable that we've got the best plan possible. Obviously, it would have been lovely to have had them here the whole time, but the honour in representing your country is also important."

The Kiwis were heavily criticised for their performance in the 32-4 loss to Australia in the World Cup final. While they were outplayed, Elliott believes the time will come for this Kiwis team.

"I'm sure a lot of the Kiwis would acknowledge that they would have liked to have played better," Elliott said.

"But one of the things that needs to be understood and quite often gets missed is that with the Australian spine, three of them have been playing together for 10 years.

"Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater play together every week and you throw Johnathan Thurston in, he's been playing with those guys for a decade as well, four to six times a year.

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"The Kiwis guys haven't had that opportunity to develop their halves/hooker combination. They have an exciting combination there but they're just not as developed as Australia's.

"But if you go down the track to the next World Cup, I can see that it's the Kiwis that will have the advantage there."

Last week was a busy one for the Warriors off the field, with star signing Sam Tomkins coming over on a meet and greet trip to press the flesh with sponsors and members before heading back to England for Christmas.

"It was an opportunity to do a lot of corporate stuff that was part of his commitment here, like meeting sponsors and members," Elliott said.

"I know that he would have loved to have spent more time around the players, but what this has allowed us to do is that when he comes back in January he's full on and completely focused on football.

"His conduct in all environments, from the CEOs of all of our sponsors, to the corporates, the fans and the players has been massively impressive.

"I was blown away by him, actually."

- Sunday News

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