On Sunday night, Leutele was first told by the NRL he would be unable to sign with the Storm for the remainder of the season, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The NRL has proven its ability to adapt quickly during the pandemic, but Buzz Rothfield has described these decisions as a potential “can of worms” for the league office.
“It was a stalemate, there were emails exchanged all weekend and in fairness to the NRL they have to do a signing that is fair to the other clubs,” Rothfield said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.
“You can’t just prop up Melbourne Storm and do favours for them. You can’t do favours for the Roosters. You can’t do favours for Souths and let them sign Joseph Suaalii and let him play at 17.
“This is the can of worms they’ve opened by letting Sonny Bill play on two contracts, by letting Souths play Suaalii before any other 18 year old.
“Now they’ve had to do the same with Ricky Leutele but I think it’s worked out in the best interests of everyone.”
Leutele was desperate to return to Australia after Toronto’s sudden withdrawal from the Super League season left him and his teammates “abandoned” and in need of money.
“We updated that story last night when we learnt the NRL were going to back down and allow him to sign with the Melbourne Storm,” Rothfield said.
“He was a grand final centre in 2016, wasn’t on enormous money at the Sharks and got a huge offer to play Super League with the Toronto Wolfpack.
“Now, the club has just abandoned all the players over there and he has been given an eviction notice to move out of his house, he’s had his club car repossessed, he hasn’t been paid for nearly three months.
“He’s just been left stranded there. The club is supposed to fly him back to Australia but they’ve just disappeared. He’s trying to sort out his own airfares now.
“The NRL obviously want to give these stranded players opportunities to come back and play some footy.”
The Warriors were initially touted as the logical landing spot for Leutele but they rejected him.
But for the Storm, Leutele is a needed addition after a season-ending injury to loan player Paul Momirovski has left them in desperate need of depth in the outside backs.
“Everyone was thinking let’s send him to the Warriors, they could do with some help,” he said.
“But the Warriors don’t want him because by the time he gets home, there’ll be isolation and he hasn’t played since February. The Melbourne Storm do want him.”
The Storm couldn’t offer Leutele much but he was more than grateful for anything he could get, according to Rothfield.
“They’ve only got $35,000 left in the cap,” he said.
“Ricky is more than happy to play for $35,000. Anyway, the NRL step in and say no you can’t. He’s worth $60,000.
“They said look he wants to come back and play footy, we’ve got no money. We’ve lost Paul Momirovski.”