After 40 Test appearances for his nation, 85 NRL games for the Warriors and over 350 Super League appearances across 20 years of top-flight football, Wigan and New Zealand Warriors icon Thomas Leuluai has announced his retirement from the game.
But the seasoned veteran isn’t resting on his laurels – he already has his next job lined up with the club he’s represented for 12 seasons.
Leuluai will move straight from the field to the coaches box, taking up an assistant role under Wigan Warriors head coach Matt Peet, working alongside former teammate Sean O’Loughlin.
He’ll take up a similar role at international level, getting to lead the Kiwis out one more time for a pre-World Cup friendly game against Leeds Rhinos before joining Michael Maguire in the Kiwis coaching setup.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” Leuluai said in a club statement.
“Back in 2003 when I made my debut for New Zealand Warriors, I never thought I’d be writing this 20 years later.
“When team mates around me retired, I often wondered how they knew it was the right time. But I can honestly say I feel so content with my own decision and it’s true what they say – you know when it’s time.
“I look back through the years and I just feel so incredibly grateful for everything rugby league has given me. There have been wonderful times on the field and amazing times off it. I’ve loved them all.
“But without a doubt the best thing rugby league has given me is the friendships I’ve made.”
Leuluai made his debut for the Warriors back in 2003, playing 21 games in two seasons during his first spell with the club before moving to England. There he played for the London Broncos and Harlequins before eventually finding a home at another bunch of Warriors in Wigan.
Though he returned for another stint with the Warriors in the NRL, he ultimately returned to England after four years and became an icon at Wigan, playing over 300 games for the club and helping them win multiple honours.