Thomas Leuluai

Last updated

Thomas Leuluai
Thomas Leuluai 2011.jpg
Personal information
Full nameThomas James Leuluai [1]
Born (1985-06-22) 22 June 1985 (age 35)
Auckland, New Zealand
Height5 ft 9 in (1.76 m)
Weight13 st 8 lb (86 kg) [2]
Playing information
Position Scrum-half, Hooker, Stand-off
Club
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
2003–04 New Zealand Warriors 212008
2005–06 London Broncos 40210084
2007–12 Wigan Warriors 1896000240
2013–16 New Zealand Warriors 64100040
2017– Wigan Warriors 127130153
Total44110601425
Representative
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
2003–17 New Zealand 3930012
2011–12 Exiles 20000
As of 21 April 2021
Source: [3] [4]

Thomas James Leuluai (born 22 June 1985) is a New Zealand professional rugby league footballer who plays as a scrum-half , stand-off or hooker for the Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Super League and has played for New Zealand at international level.

Contents

He played for the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL in two separate spells in Auckland, the London Broncos in the Super League, before moving to Wigan for the first of his two spells at the club. Leuluai was a member of the 2008 World Cup-winning New Zealand team and has also played for the Exiles.

Background

Leuluai was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and is of Samoan and Māori descent.

Leuluai's father is former Maori representative/New Zealand international James Leuluai, who scored two tries for Hull F.C. in the 1985 Challenge Cup Final 6 weeks before Thomas was born. Thomas was educated at Mount Albert Grammar School where he attended school with fellow rugby league players Sonny Bill Williams, Steve Matai and Tevita Latu. Leuluai's brother Macgraff Leuluai currently plays for Widnes Vikings, his uncle Phillip Leuluai played for Salford City Reds and his cousin Kylie Leuluai played for the Leeds Rhinos.

Playing career

New Zealand Warriors

Leuluai started his professional career at National Rugby League side New Zealand Warriors in 2003. He also played for the Junior Kiwis. At the time of his début he was the youngest player to play for the club, coincidentally in the same game Mark Robinson became the oldest player to make his début for the club. With competition from New Zealand internationals Stacey Jones and Lance Hohaia he had limited first team experience at New Zealand Warriors and consequently he spent most of the 2003 season in the Bartercard Cup playing for his youth club Otahuhu-Ellerslie, playing 10 games and scoring 5 tries. Leuluai became the second youngest player ever to represent the Kiwis when he made his début that year.

Leuluai playing for the Warriors at the SFS Thomas Leuluai 2004 Warriors.jpg
Leuluai playing for the Warriors at the SFS

At the end of 2004, he left the Warriors after playing 21 first grade games and scoring two tries.

London Broncos

In 2004, Leuluai signed a contract with Super League side London Broncos as a replacement for Dennis Moran who had left the Broncos to join the Wigan Warriors. He spent two years at the club playing 38 games and scoring 19 tries. Both seasons were affected by injury. In 2005, his season was cut short by a broken ankle [5] while his 2006 campaign was disrupted by a hamstring injury sustained while playing for New Zealand. His contract was not extended and he agreed to join the Wigan Warriors for the 2007 season.

Wigan Warriors

Leuluai agreed a three-year deal with Wigan Warriors in December 2006 after months of speculation and rumours. He would replace Australians Michael Dobson and partner Trent Barrett in the halves during the 2007 season. Leuluai made his Wigan Super League début in a 16–10 defeat by the Warrington Wolves at the JJB Stadium on 9 February 2007. He scored the game-winning try against St. Helens at the JJB stadium and scored Wigan's first against the Bradford Bulls in the history breaking 31–30 comeback win in the Play-offs.

Leuluai playing for the Wigan Warriors in 2008 Tommy Leuliai.jpg
Leuluai playing for the Wigan Warriors in 2008

On 9 May 2008 Leuluai played for New Zealand against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the Centenary Test, which took place 100 years to the day after the New Zealand 'All Golds' first met Australia.

Tommy Leuluai playing for the Kiwis at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. Thomas Leuluai (26 October 2008).jpg
Tommy Leuluai playing for the Kiwis at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.

At the end of 2008 Leuluai played for the New Zealand team which won the 2008 World Cup. [6] [7]

In April 2009, having made over seventy appearances for the club, Leuluai extended his contract with the Wigan Warriors by three years to last him until the 2012 season. [8]

He helped Wigan to their first Championship since 1998 with a man-of-the-match performance in the 2010 Super League Grand Final earning him the Harry Sunderland Trophy in the victory over St. Helens at Old Trafford. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

The 2011 Wigan Warriors season started against St Helens R.F.C. in the opening fixture of the season, with his first try coming a week later at Bradford Bulls in Round 2. [23] As well as playing in the 2011 World Club Challenge, Leuluai scored a brace in Round 4 against Salford City Reds. [24] [25] A try against Hull Kingston Rovers was followed with another against Crusaders RL in Rounds 10 and 13 respectively. [26] [27] He then claimed two more braces in consecutive matches, firstly against Barrow Raiders in the Challenge Cup fourth round, then against Harlequins in Round 14 of 2011's Super League XVI. [28] [29]

Leuluai was selected for the Exiles squad for the Rugby League International Origin Match against England at Headingley on 10 June 2011. [30]

Leuluai played as a hooker in the 2011 Challenge Cup Final victory over the Leeds Rhinos, scoring a try at Wembley Stadium. [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45]

Return to New Zealand

In November 2011 Leuluai announced that he had signed a three-year contract with the New Zealand Warriors starting in 2013. [46]

Leuluai playing for Warriors in 2013 Thomas Leuluai.jpg
Leuluai playing for Warriors in 2013

In 2016 he was linked with a move back to Super League with St Helens, [47] However, in July 2016, Leuluai announced he would be re-joining the Wigan Warriors in 2017. [48]

Wigan comeback

Having been awarded the number 7 jersey on his return to Wigan he made his second début against Salford Red Devils in Round 1 of the 2017 Super League season. A week later he helped Wigan to lift the World Club Challenge against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks scoring his first try of the season a week later against Widnes Vikings. Leuluai suffered a broken jaw in Round 11 of the Super League just six months after suffering the same injury playing for New Zealand. [49] He made his comeback just four weeks later against St Helens, scoring his second try of the season against Wakefield Trinity.

He played in the 2017 Challenge Cup Final defeat by Hull F.C. at Wembley Stadium. [50]

He scored his third and final try of the season against Castleford Tigers in the sixth round of the Super 8's.

His good form saw his called up to the New Zealand World Cup squad playing twice for the Kiwis.

After telling coach Shaun Wane he felt more comfortable in the hooker role he was handed the number 9 shirt after the departure of Michael McIlorum. [51]

He played in the 2018 Super League Grand Final victory over the Warrington Wolves at Old Trafford. [52]

He played in the 2020 Super League Grand Final which Wigan lost 8-4 against St Helens. [53]

Career statistics

[54] [4]

SeasonTeamLeagueAppsTriesGoalsDGPoints
2003 New Zealand Warriors National Rugby League 121004
2004 91004
2005 London Broncos Super League 22140056
2006 1870028
2007 Wigan Warriors 34110044
2008 32120048
2009 34100040
2010 3180032
2011 35110044
2012 2380032
2013 New Zealand Warriors National Rugby League 2460024
2014 120000
2015 101004
2016 1830012
2017 Wigan Warriors Super League 3130113
2018 3040016
Total37510001401

Honours

Wigan

New Zealand

Individual

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