Thomas Leuluai to captain New Zealand on final career appearance

Tommy Leuluai Wigan Warriors SWpix
Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix

Thomas Leuluai will bring down the curtain on a 20-year career as skipper of New Zealand when they face Leeds at Headingley on Saturday night.

Leuluai, 37, announced his decision to retire at the end of 2022 and his former club coach Michael Maguire, who is head coach of the Kiwis, invited him to play his final game with them.

He has been named at scrum-half alongside Kieran Foran in a 19-man squad for the World Cup warm-up.

Wigan team-mate Willie Isa and Catalans centre Dean Whare have also been drafted in as two other guest players.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is suspended, while full-back Joseph Manu is also missing.

Penrith trio James Fisher-Harris, Moses Leota and Scott Sorensen as well as Parramatta’s Dylan Brown, Isaiah Papali’i and Marate Niukore are not included after playing in the NRL Grand Final. All six players are due to link up with the squad ahead of the game in Leeds.

New Zealand previously played Leeds at Headingley in 2015, winning 34-16 in a farewell game for Ali Lauitiiti and Kylie Leuluai.

This time Leeds will bid farewell to former crowd favourite Adam Cuthbertson, who pulls on the Rhinos shirt for a final time having ended his playing days at Featherstone.

Thomas Leuluai farewell

Thomas Leuluai made his New Zealand Warriors debut in 2003 at the age of 18, then the youngest player to play for the club.

He made his international debut later that year against Australia.

The son of former New Zealand and Hull forward James Leuluai, Thomas followed in his father’s footsteps by moving to the UK in 2005 with London Broncos.

After two seasons in the capital, he moved to Wigan and was man of the match as they won the 2010 Super League title.

International success with the Kiwis, at the 2008 World Cup and 2010 Four Nations, bookended that success and it was soon followed by a Challenge Cup win in 2011.

He returned to the NRL for four seasons with the Warriors between 2013 and 2016, before returning to Wigan and finishing his career there with six more seasons.

In total, Leuluai made 327 appearances for Wigan and represented New Zealand on 40 occasions.

New Zealand team v Leeds

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jordan Rapana, Peta Hiku, Sebastian Kris, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Kieran Foran, Thomas Leuluai, Jesse Bromwich, Brandon Smith, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Kenny Bromwich, Briton Nikora, Isaac Liu. Subs: Jahrome Hughes, Joseph Tapine, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Jeremy Marshall-King, Dean Whare, Willie Isa

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About James Gordon 7234 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

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