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Rugby | International Rugby

New Zealand's Leuluai glad to be 'home'

Thomas Leuluai returned to Wigan for his family and after slotting seamlessly back into a winning Warriors side the Kiwi has found his own home away from home.

The 31-year-old half-back's first spell at the DW Stadium between 2007 and 2012 saw him lift every trophy the English game has to offer before heading back to his native New Zealand.

However, after a four-year spell in the southern hemisphere NRL, he is back in the north of England –- largely due to his wife Natalie and their baby daughter Wynter-Rose.

Natalie hails from Wigan and wanted to be closer to her family again and Leuluai admits he was fortunate to have a club that he too could call home.

"It's all felt very familiar, that was one of the main reasons I decided to come back here to a place I know and a club I love," he said.

"It's been a very smooth transition and not much has changed since I left –- we have always had a strong squad with good young players."

Leuluai was on the other side of the world watching on when Shaun Wane's side lifted the Super League trophy last year.

And the Kiwi, who was linked with Wigan's arch-rivals St Helens before coming back to his former employers, was delighted to help crown that glory this season with the Warriors' win in the World Club Challenge.

"I am not jealous of the lads, I am really happy for what they have done, on top of that I am very proud of the World Club Challenge win," he added.

"I wanted to do that for the guys that had won it last year, I didn't want to let them down. They had done so well and they deserved to win it all."


Injury-hit Wigan have ground out three wins from three at the start of the 2017 Super League season ahead of Thursday's Grand Final re-match away to Warrington.

The Wolves have been off-colour so far this campaign but did down the Brisbane Broncos in the World Club Series with a first-half blitz that Leuluai called one of "the finest halves of footy" he had seen from any team in a long time.

Elsewhere this weekend, Leeds welcome Catalans Dragons to Headingley, with home coach Brian McDermott's job seemingly under threat.

In a letter to supporters, Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington, who backed McDermott despite Leeds missing out on the Super 8s last season, said: "We are not stubborn enough to believe no change is always the best option.

"But equally we don't make knee-jerk decisions and any actions have to be carefully thought out with the only consideration of what's in the best interests of the club now and in the future."

He added: "This month is an important one... and at its end we will be in a much better position to make an accurate judgement on the performance of all our players, coaching staff and senior management, including myself."

Wakefield, fresh from their surprise win over St Helens last time out, welcome Salford on Sunday. And the Wildcats have been boosted by the news Reece Lyne has signed a new contract.

"It is great to be able to get it tied up. It is a club that makes me feel at home and I am happy here," said the centre.


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