Leigh Leopards star linked with NRL return for 2024

Ben Olawumi
Leigh Leopards celebrate try at Magic Weekend - Alamy

John Asiata and his teammates celebrate a try at Magic Weekend - Alamy

Leigh Leopards could well be losing one of their key men next season with John Asiata set for a sensational return to the NRL, if reports in Australia are to believed.

Asiata joined Adrian Lam’s side ahead of 2022, helping them to Super League promotion at the first time of asking as well as silverware in the form of the 1895 Cup.  He missed just three matches last term.

And this year, Asiata – along with the rest of his teammates – has taken the top tier by storm. One of the competition’s top performers, the loose forward has been in inspired form and this weekend will lead the Leigh pack out in a Challenge Cup semi-final.

Prior to the start of this season, he penned a two-year contract extension, but reports suggest that he could be back in his homeland before long.

Leigh Leopards to lose star man?

Born in Penrith, 30-year-old Asiata is a veteran of the game with vast experience and accolades to his name.

Triumphant in the 2015 NRL Grand Final with the North Queensland Cowboys, he also formed part of the 2016 World Club Challenge winning side which beat Leeds Rhinos. Now teammate Zak Hardaker played for the Rhinos in that game.

Wide World of Sports have spoken to Asiata’s agent Pierre Tannous, who has confirmed that three different NRL clubs are interested in bringing the 6 foot man back home. One is rumoured to be in Queensland, with the other two in New South Wales.

The Leopards’ forward departed the NRL due to rules surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine, and has previously talked about how Leigh re-ignited his love for rugby league.

John Asiata: God’s Plan

Speaking to the Leigh Journal earlier this week ahead of Leigh’s Challenge Cup semi-final against St Helens, Asiata didn’t rule anything out when it comes to his next step.

He believes a higher power will make the decision for him, saying: “If God really wants me back in the NRL he will open that door for me. But this is where I am and I am understanding now why I ended up here.”

“No doors are closed and if opportunity arose and it fitted with what we want to do as a family, I would explore it.

“But now it is all about here and trying to enjoy and play rugby league. Whether we go back or not I leave with my faith.

“No doors are closed and if opportunity arose and it fitted with what we want to do as a family, I would explore it.”

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