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Warriors half Leuluai returning to England

NZN 3/07/2016

Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai has been granted a release from the last season of his contract on compassionate grounds and will return to Super League club Wigan next year.

Leuluai, 31, approached the Warriors earlier in the season requesting the release for family reasons, something which managing director Jim Doyle agreed to.

"His leadership qualities and professionalism have been invaluable but we understand his desire to return to England and take comfort from the fact we have a number of options in his positions," Doyle said.

Wigan announced Leuluai will rejoin them for 2017 and, although they have not specified the length of his contract, he has been promised a place on the club's coaching staff when he retires.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said it was always part of the club's long-term plan regain the services of a player whose six-year stint encompassed 188 games before he returned to the Warriors in 2013.

Leuluai scored 60 tries for Wigan and was a key figure in their Grand Final and Challenge Cup final-winning teams.

He will be reunited at the DW Stadium with English Test fullback Sam Tomkins, who also cut short his time in Auckland to return to Wigan.

Leuluai says he is grateful to the Warriors for clearing the way to take his wife Natalie, who is from Wigan, and their baby daughter back to the United Kingdom.

"I've loved being in familiar surroundings even though we've had our share of challenges but we've reached a point where we would like to go back," he said.

"I had a bit of a look around in Super League but, as soon as I knew that Wigan were interested, it was a no-brainer."

Leuluai became the second-youngest player to debut for the Warriors in 2003, aged 17.

The 34-Test Kiwis veteran has played 77 games for the Warriors across a combined six seasons.

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