THOMAS Leuluai is hoping to get the nod to represent the Exiles – from the man who launched him on the path to rugby league stardom.
Australian Daniel Anderson was yesterday confirmed as coach of the side, which is comprised of Super League’s best overseas stars, to face England in two matches this summer.
And Leuluai knows all about the ex-St Helens coach, who thrust the halfback into the NRL limelight when he was just a 17-year-old at the New Zealand Warriors.
Leuluai – vice-captain of the Exiles side which won 16-12 last year – was also coached by Anderson at Test level and said: “He was the one who first gave me a crack, he was good for me.
“I think he’ll be good for the Exiles, he knows his stuff and because he coached New Zealand, he knows a lot of the Kiwi boys as well as the Australians.
“I enjoyed it last time, we had an awesome camp and it was good to get the win.
“It depends on how he wants to play it because there are a lot of quality players to pick from, but if I get the chance I’d like to play.”
Last year, the Exiles were picked from a fans’ internet poll and limited to three representatives per club.
But this year the coaching team of Anderson, Robbie Hunter-Paul, Glenn Morrison and Shaun McRae will select the side and there will be no limits on call-ups.
Leuluai was joined by Pat Richards and George Carmont last term and they would appear likely to continue in the side for the two matches on June 16 and July 4.
Meanwhile, captain Sean O’Loughlin yesterday thanked the fans, players and former team-mates who turned out in force for a tribute night on Tuesday, organised by the Riversiders supporters club.
Super League stars including Jamie Peacock, Adrian Morley and Kevin Brown joined O’Loughlin’s Wigan peers at the DW Stadium function.
Legends Andy Gregory, Billy Boston, Bill Ashurst and Steve Hampson also attended while Michael Maguire, Bryan Fletcher, Trent Barrett and Shaun Edwards were among those to send messages.
“I was absolutely gob-smacked,” said O’Loughlin. “I had no idea about how many people were coming – it’s making me question who I can trust! But for so many fans, players, and former players, to turn out... it meant a lot to me. It was very humbling.”
During the event, chairman Ian Lenagan revealed he tried to prise O’Loughlin away from Wigan with a lucrative offer when he was in charge of London.
Lenagan is currently in Harrogate for a meeting with Super League club’s chief executives and chairmen.