Warrior Leuluai happy to be back
Thomas Leuluai thought his Wigan Warriors career was over when he broke his leg playing for the Exiles in mid-summer but he is now hoping to bow out on a high at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old scrum-half decided last November to return home to Auckland at the end of the 2012 season after spending the last nine years in England, initially with London Broncos and for the last six seasons with the Warriors.
Leuluai feared the worst when he suffered his traumatic injury playing against England at St Helens in June but he made his comeback as a substitute in Wigan's 42-36 win at Hull KR last Sunday.
And tomorrow he will make his first home appearance for four months when he runs out for the last match of the regular season against arch rivals St Helens, just in time to help his team collect the league leaders' shield and embark on a play-off trail he hopes will culminate in a second Grand Final appearance in three years.
Leuluai admits another Super League ring would represent a fairytale farewell but for now he is simply relieved to be back playing.
"It's been tough watching," he said. "It was one of the worst injuries I've had but I haven't had too many so I can't really complain.
"I thought it was a lot worse when I did it but it's been good news ever since. I worked real hard to get back and the physios have been awesome.
"To get a chance to play last weekend was really exciting and I was happy with the way I went.
"The more games I get under my belt, the better I'm going to be and the quicker the sharpness will come back.
"It would mean a lot to finish off in the Grand Final but there are so many little steps we've got to take to get there.
"It's too far off to be talking about that. I just want to make sure I am back playing first and foremost and make sure I'm playing well."
While St Helens need the points tomorrow to ensure a third-place finish, the Warriors are already guaranteed to finish top but Leuluai insists they will be going all out to make it a 4-0 clean sweep of 2012 derbies so far.
"Obviously it's not a must-win but for the town it is a must-win and for us, going into the play-offs, we have got to perform well," he said.
"There are things we need to get right before the play-offs and this week is a good chance to do that."