NRL Rd 25 - Wests Tigers v Bulldogs
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 05: Luciano Leilua of the Tigers walks off the field during the round 25 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Moreton Daily Stadium, on September 05, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Wests Tigers' second-rower Luciano Leilua will officially depart the club at the end of the 2022 season.

It had been reported overnight that Leilua would depart the Concord-based club with immediate effect to take up a long-term offer with the North Queensland Cowboys.

While he won't be released immediately, the Cowboys have signed his signature on a three-year deal which will see him spend at least the 2023, 2024 and 2025 seasons in Townsville.

Leilua is just one of a number of high-profile players across the competition who were allowed to negotiate their 2023 contracts and beyond from November 1.

The second-rower reportedly wasn't impressed with the offer the Tigers put on the table for him, and with Isaiah Papali'i joining the club, has decided to move on, with the North Queensland Cowboys still thought to be the most likely destination.

According to last night's reports, the three-year deal will be worth around $700,000 per season for Leilua, who has turned himself into one of the best second-rowers in the competition, with his game going from strength to strength in 2022.

LUCIANO LEILUA
Lock
Wests Tigers
2021 SEASON AVG
1.5
Offloads
0.2
Tries
0.1
Try Assists

Cowboys' head of football Michael Luck said Leilua will add a point of difference to the team's attack.

“We’ve always been steadfast on our desire to add more experience to our forward pack, particularly in the edge back row position,” Cowboys General Manager of Football Micheal Luck said.

“Luciano is developing into an 80-minute backrower and he has some tools in his kit bag that not a lot of other players possess. He’s a threat with the footy and he can create for others through his passing, offloading and his ability to break the line.

“We believe he will add a significant point of difference to our attack and will be difficult for opposition defences to plan against.

“We’re also excited about the lessons Luciano can teach our young forwards through his experiences during the early years of his NRL career.”

The Tigers also released a statement confirming Leilua wouldn't be released early.

"Wests Tigers player Luciano Leilua has confirmed to the club he will depart at the end of the 2022 season to take up a long-term deal with another NRL club," the statement read.

"The 25-year-old Leilua joined Wests Tigers at the start of the 2020 season and has gone on to play a total of 44 games for the club.

"Since his arrival, Luciano has made a strong contribution to Wests Tigers, and we have no doubt that he is firmly committed to delivering his best football with the club in 2022.

"We wish Luciano, his partner Dora, and his daughter Ida-Lynn all the best in the future."