Tommy Leuluai hailed "one of Wigan Warriors' finest imports" after signing new deal
Tommy Leuluai has been hailed one of Wigan's greatest ever overseas players after signing a new deal.
The Kiwi has signed a new one-year contract to play on in 2020.
And Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski said: “Tommy is one of the finest imports we have had here at the Warriors and he is still producing the type of influential performances that we have grown accustomed to in a Cherry and White shirt.
"He has been one our stand-out performers in the 2019 season and we’re delighted to announce that we’ll be retaining one of the game’s fiercest competitors in our playing squad for another season.
“When we went through a difficult period at the start of the season, he was the guy who put his hand up every week, playing on through the pain barrier. This never stopped him tackling as hard as he could. He is as committed now at the back-end of his career as he was when he was 21 years old, has the ultimate respect of every player and staff member and he is an absolute warrior in every sense of the words. I hope 2020 will be memorable for him."
Leuluai, 34, is in his second stint with Wigan, sandwiching a four year spell from 2013 back at his old club, NZ Warriors. He has helped Wigan to two Super League titles, a Challenge Cup and a World Club Challenge title and will head into his 18th season as a professional in 2020.
“I’m really excited to be heading into another year with this group, 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting season for everyone involved with Wigan Warriors but, first and foremost, I’ll be concentrating on helping this group defend our Super League title in 2019," he said.
"Wigan has a special place in my heart, and I’m looking forward to going round for another season.”
Coach Adrian Lam added: “Tommy continues to play an integral part of our squad. His leadership, rugby brain and competitive edge have played a crucial role for us this season and I’m delighted that he will be part of our squad for 2020.”
Leuluai's previous contract had an agreement to join the club's coaching staff once he hangs up his boots.
The new contract will not come as a surprise - Lam had already said last month that terms had been agreed - but it will be warmly-welcomed, given the Kiwi's influence on the side from either halfback or hooker.
His commitment to Wigan leaves Sean O'Loughlin as the only frontline player with a question-mark hanging over his future at the club.
The Warriors have already retained Joe Burgess, Morgan Smithies and Tony Clubb, who were out-of-contract. They also upgraded Chris Hankinson's deal and confirmed Dan Sarginson will depart, thought to be for Salford, along with Canberra-bound George Williams.
Fringe player Samy Kibula is also out of contract.