Ex-Leeds Rhinos & Leigh Leopards powerhouse departs Super League for captain-coach role in Australia

Ben Olawumi
Ava Seumanufagai

Ava Seumanufagai in action for Leigh Leopards in 2023 - Alamy

Despite no official confirmation from the club, Leigh Leopards forward Ava Seumanufagai has departed and will take up a captain-coach role Down Under with semi-professional outfit Campbelltown City Kangaroos.

The New Zealand-born prop linked up with the Leopards ahead of 2023 for their return to Super League. He went on to feature 17 times, with all bar one of those coming as an interchange, and scored a sole try in a win against Castleford Tigers in May.

Seumanufagai missed out on selection as Adrian Lam’s men lifted the Challenge Cup under the arch at Wembley in August, though does already have a winners’ medal in the competition to his name, earned in Leeds Rhinos colours three years prior.

With a combined 49 appearances in the British game, the 32-year-old now turns his attention to Grade 6 Rugby League over in Australia, set to captain Campbelltown’s oldest rugby league club next year as well as taking the reins.

Former Leeds Rhinos & Leigh Leopards powerhouse Ava Seumanufagai departs for coaching opportunity in Australia

Prop Seumanufagai has also amassed close to 150 appearances in the NRL over the course of his career, with the vast majority of those for Wests Tigers, and a handful split between Cronulla Sharks & the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Despite not making an official appearance, the veteran was also involved internationally with Samoa, representing his heritage as he featured in their ‘train-on camps’ building into tournaments.

Speaking to Australian news outlet ‘South West Voice‘, he said: “The next step in my journey is to follow a coaching pathway.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity afforded to me by the Kangaroos and look forward to coaching and bringing the best out in all of our players. I will still play and lead the way on and off to the field.

“I look forward to showing many of our young players what it takes to be a professional footballer.”

Leigh – who haven’t released a ‘departures’ or ‘retentions list’ yet – are also still to confirm his departure, but Seumanufagai will go down as the fourth player to leave from their 2023 squad.

Oliver Gildart’s short-term deal was only ever until the end of the season having already agreed to join Hull KR from 2024, while Joe Wardle’s move to Oldham as a player-coach was confirmed before the end of the year, and Ben Reynolds’ move to Featherstone Rovers was made official last month.

There are now five off-contract players remaining at the Leigh Sports Village – Jacob Jones, Tom Nisbet, Ben Nakubuwai, Aaron Smith & Nathan Wilde.

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