Wigan coach Matt Peet has paid a glowing tribute to the retiring Tommy Leuluai, and says he owes the Kiwi icon a great deal on a personal note.
The 37-year-old will hang up his boots at the end of the season following an illustrious 20-year professional playing career.
Leuluai will join Wigan’s coaching staff from next season, assisting head coach Peet alongside current assistant Sean O’Loughlin.
He has made 326 appearances for the Warriors across two spells, winning eight major trophies.
“From the lad who came from London to the man you see now, I think you’ve seen him evolve his game and his character and develop into a leader,” Peet told Love Rugby League.
“What I love about Tommy is that he epitomises everything you want from a rugby player.
“He plays the game super aggressively, he’s got great skills and can express himself with the ball.
“Ultimately, he is very respectful of anyone he comes across. He’s very humble. I think all the great leaders in rugby league – the likes of James Roby and Sean O’Loughlin – have that balance between being competitive but respectful day in, day out.
“Tommy has set the tone for the culture of the club, following on from Lockers as captain. He sets the tone day in, day out, working hard and having fun and being respectful for everyone he comes across.”
Matt Peet: I owe a great deal to Tommy Leuluai
Peet is enjoying his first season as a head coach in Super League. He guided his hometown club to Challenge Cup glory earlier this year and is looking to take the Warriors to the Grand Final at Old Trafford.
Peet says having legendary half-back Leuluai as his captain in his first season in charge has made his job easier.
“Personally, I owe Tommy a great deal,” Peet added. “He’s been very supportive of me.
“To have him as my captain in my first year as head coach has been great. I speak to him like he’s a member of staff and I get his opinion on everything.
“I know I can trust him and he knows he can trust me so I look forward to welcoming him onto the staff and helping him develop as a coach.”