Tommy ready for England test

Thomas Leuluai kicks against Saints
Thomas Leuluai kicks against Saints
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THOMAS Leuluai is aiming to inflict more national embarrassment on England this weekend.

The Kiwi World Cup winner is one of seven survivors from the Exiles team which enjoyed a dramatic 16-12 triumph in the inaugural contest last season.

This year, the concept has been stretched out into two matches and Leuluai is eyeing more success.

He said: “I feel privileged to be involved. Last year’s game was more enjoyable than I expected, simply because I didn’t know what to expect.

“It was a new idea, and we’re not playing for our country.

“But I thought the boys bought into it and played for each other, which was good. There was passion involved and that’s what you want. Hopefully we can do it again this year.”

The Exiles have been installed as the bookmakers’ favourites but a string of withdrawals could tip the scales in England’s favour.

And Leuluai – who will start at stand-off – expects the team made up of Super League’s best foreign talent to have their hands full tomorrow (kick-off 6.45pm), particularly trying to cope with some of his Wigan team-mates. “We’ve had a few injuries, a few missing out,” he said.

“We’ve still got a good team but so have England.

“Their forward pack is strong, with Gaz Hock and Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) who are two of England’s best players, and they have a great back three (full-back and wingers). When someone like Josh Charnley has had to bide his time, when he’s scored – what? – 22 tries, there must be some good players in front of him, and there is.

“Tom Briscoe and Ryan Hall are hard to handle at the back, and I don’t need to sing the praises of Sam Tomkins because everyone know what he can do.”

Leuluai was expected to switch from scrum-half to hooker, but has instead been named at stand-off, and will link up with Catalan’s crafty No.7 Scott Dureau.

“He’s been playing really well, he’s the heartbeat of that team,” said Leuluai, who is joined in the Exiles squad by Wigan peers Jeff Lima and Epalahame Lauaki.

Leuluai has worked with Exiles coach Daniel Anderson before, having been handed his debut by the Australian when he was at New Zealand Warriors.

The 26-year-old is heading back to his former club at the end of this season. He added: “I’ve not thought much about it.

“People back home keep asking me where I’m going to stay, but it’s like going to a new country – I’ve not lived there in eight years so I don’t know where’s good any more. I’ll need my SatNav to get around!”