Leuluai set to play on for Wigan Warriors next season
Thomas Leuluai says it is 'looking likely' he will play on in 2019.
His playing deal expires at the end of the season and the hooker has an agreement to join the club’s coaching staff when he hangs up his boots.
But that big day appears to be at least another year away for the durable 33-year-old.
“I’ve had a chat with Rads (Kris Radlinski, executive director) and it’s looking like I’ll most likely play on next year,” said Leuluai.
“They want me to carry on and my body is feeling good.”
Kiwi Leuluai, who switched from halfback to hooker this season, has played an unheralded role in guiding Wigan to second in the Super League ladder.
And he concedes tomorrow’s crunch derby with St Helens is a golden chance to make a statement of their title-winning credentials.
He said: “You’d probably give us a pass mark for the season so far.
“But I think we’d need to win some big games for people to look at us as contenders, especially after losing in the Challenge Cup (quarter-final to Warrington).
“If we lose this game it won’t be the end of the world but if we win it’ll give us a boost. Saints are easily the best team in the comp’, and we’ll need to be close to our best to give them a crack.”
Wigan’s defeat at Huddersfield last week saw them slip eight points behind pace-setters Saints, who have lost just twice all year.
Asked whether Wigan could catch them in the race for the League Leaders’ Shield, Leuluai replied: “Most probably not, I don’t think we can.
“And I don’t know if we deserve to, they’ve been the best team by far all year.”
Sean O’Loughlin, sidelined for two weeks with a calf strain, has a similar arrangement to Leuluai and is also expected to play on in 2019.
With Wigan taking up an option on Dom Manfredi for next season, Romain Navarrete and Oliver Gildart signing new deals and the departures of Sam Tomkins (Catalans) and Ryan Sutton (Canberra) already announced, it leaves just one player’s future yet to be officially confirmed.
But it has long been understood John Bateman will join Sutton at Canberra for next season on a three-year deal.