Wigan skipper Thomas Leuluai to retire from playing and take up coaching role

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Wigan captain Thomas Leuluai is to retire at the end of the season and take up the role of assistant coach.

Leuluai, 37, who is in his second spell with the Warriors after also playing for New Zealand Warriors and London Broncos, is calling time on his career after 20 years as a professional.

He has been out with injury since June but has been named in coach Matt Peet’s squad for Friday’s home game against Catalans Dragons and will make one final appearance for New Zealand in their World Cup warm-up match against Leeds on October 8.

Leuluai said: “It’s been an incredible journey. Back in 2003 when I made my debut for the New Zealand Warriors, I never thought I’d be writing this 20 years later.

“When players and team-mates around me retired, I often wondered how they knew it was the right time to do so, 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 throughout the years and I just feel incredibly grateful for everything that rugby league has given me.”

Leuluai, who has so far made 325 appearances for Wigan, helped Peet’s men lift the Challenge Cup at Tottenham in May and is hoping to bow out with a third Grand Final ring.

Leuluai, who made his international debut at the age of 18 and was a member of the World Cup-winning team in 2008, will also join the Kiwis coaching team for the World Cup.

Wigan executive director Kris Radlinski said: “Thomas Leuluai will go down as one of Super League’s greatest players.

“He is a fearless competitor who leaves everything on the rugby league field.

“I have been speaking to Michael Maguire about ways in which we can pay tribute to him. The idea of Tommy leading his beloved Kiwis out one final time made the hairs on my arms stand up.

“I will be there with my colleagues from Wigan supporting the Kiwis for one night and I urge as many rugby league fans as possible to join us.”