Thomas Leuluai's thoughts on Exiles revival plan

Former Exiles captain Thomas Leuluai has backed plans to revive the concept for a mid-season international against England.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 12:12 pm
Thomas Leuluai in training with the Exiles in 2012

The match is still expected to go ahead around June 24-25, even though there is a scheduled Super League round that weekend.

Leuluai was involved the last time the Exiles – a team made up of overseas stars playing in Super League – took on England and remembers the experience fondly.

And he reckons they could give Shaun Wane’s outfit a good contest if clubs release their best players for the game.

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“I enjoyed being a part of the Exiles,” said New Zealand World Cup winner Leuluai, who captained the side in 2012.

“It’s definitely a good thing for England especially with a World Cup coming up, but it was a good experience for us boys too.

“It was a good week in camp, it had a bit of a different feel to it but when the game starts it’s all on.

“There are some great players over here now and if they buy into it and enjoy it, I reckon it’d be good.”

Wigan are among the clubs with quality overseas players such as Bevan French, Willie Isa and Jai Field, while it remains to be seen whether Jackson Hastings would be involved with either side.

The Australian represented Great Britain in 2019 and has spoken of his hope of playing for England - he qualifies through a grandparent - but wasn’t named in Wane’s provisional squad.

Warrington can lay claim to having the biggest overseas star in their ranks after luring former Australian international Greg Inglis out of retirement.

“I’ve played against GI a few times, he’s a phenomenal player, and he could be one of the biggest signings Super League has ever had I reckon,” said Leuluai.

“If I was to pick the best I’ve seen he would be up there with the likes of Andrew Johns, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith.

“He’ll go down as one of the greatest of all time, and so for him to come over to Super League, it’s great for the competition, and when the fans are back, how good will it be to say they’ve seen him?”

Leuluai, though, is also an example of the risks players and clubs take in releasing their star overseas players for the game – he broke his leg in an 18-10 defeat by England in 2012.