Leuluai plans talks about his Wigan Warriors future

Thomas Leuluai plans to speak to Wigan later this month about whether he will play on beyond this season.
Thomas Leuluai will join Wigan's coaching staff when he hangs up his bootsThomas Leuluai will join Wigan's coaching staff when he hangs up his boots
Thomas Leuluai will join Wigan's coaching staff when he hangs up his boots

The Kiwi hooker is in the second season since returning to the club on a contract which will see him take up a coaching role when he hangs up his boots.

The Warriors did the same ploy with Paul Deacon a few years ago and Sean O’Loughlin also has an arrangement in place to join the staff when he retires from playing.

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Leuluai, who has switched from halfback to hooker this season, turns 33 next month and hinted he wants to continue in 2019.

But he will speak with coach Shaun Wane and the club’s senior management to see what they would like him to do – play on or take a position on the coaching staff.

Leuluai said: “I’m due to have a chat with him soon. The body’s feeling okay so we need to have a chat.

“I daresay it’s a couple of weeks away to have a chat and see where we’re at.”

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O’Loughlin has previously said he is hoping to play on but will make a decision, in conjunction with the club, later in the summer.

Now it has been confirmed Sam Tomkins will leave for Catalans at the end of the year, focus has shifted to who else may leave.

Prop Ryan Sutton is expected to try his hand in the NRL, with Canberra Raiders reportedly firming as the favourites for his signature.

Centre Oliver Gildart is also out of contract and has attracted offers from both sides of the world.

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Off-contract players are free to talk to other clubs from May 1. Clubs provide the RFL a list stating their ‘contractual status’ – effectively, who they don’t plan to retain.

League Express reported earlier this week that Sutton, and fringe players Joe Bretherton and Jack Higginson, will be departing.

Liam Forsyth and injured winger Dom Manfredi are in the ‘not yet determined’ category.

Leuluai, meanwhile, has hailed the appointment of his former Wigan coach Michael Maguire to the New Zealand hot-seat – though he is not expecting a reunion.

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“He’s a straight shooter, Madge,” said Leuluai. “I think his impact will be straight away because he has high standards.

“He won’t settle for stuff other coaches might. Knowing him quite well he won’t give up on those standards because if they’re not met he’ll find someone else and make sure someone else does it.

“I hope he keeps to the culture of New Zealand. It’s a big thing, keeping our culture and our identity, it’s something I think needs to stay but I’m pretty sure he’s well aware of that and will get the right people around him to keep that going.

“If we had a coach as good as Michael Maguire who was a New Zealander then we’d pick him but at the end of the day he’s the best and I don’t mind that because I know the person Madge is and he’s not going to come in and turn it into an Australian camp.”

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Leuluai earned the last of his 40 caps in last year’s disappointing World Cup campaign – and isn’t expecting any more.

“There are too many good players playing back there so I’m not expecting a call,” he said.

Asked would he accept an invitation, he replied: “I’d have a think about it. I’m done with it if I’m honest.

“Everyone wants to play at that level but I’d have to have a serious think about it.

“Last year I was away from my family for eight weeks.”

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Maguire’s first Test will be against England next month in Denver.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane, his former assistant, said: “He’s perfect for them. It will be a wake-up call for a few of them because he’s full on, but you look at some of the talent in that New Zealand team and he’ll be getting the best out of them.”