Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield Trinity: Why it’s family first for Rob Lui

PLENTY of Rob Lui’s Leeds Rhinos team-mates are asking him to reconsider his decision and it is no surprise given the quality of his performances of late.

After six campaigns in Super League, the Australian stand-off is heading home at the end of this season and stepping back from first-grade rugby league.

However, Lui is still only 31 and – after returning from a series of injuries – has helped breathe life into the club’s bid for the play-offs which continues with today’s short trip to Wakefield Trinity.

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With England scrum-half Luke Gale still injured, Lui was instrumental once more in their latest win – a 14-0 victory at Wigan Warriors which was Rhinos’ first success there since 2013.

On the back of memorable nights like last Wednesday, does the powerful Queenslander, with his languid style, not wonder about carrying on? Lui told The Yorkshire Post: “Yes and no.

“All the boys are saying I should go another year. And I laugh and say ‘you have to talk to the missus – it’s not up to me!’

“My family is a big part of me with my autistic son and my two- year-old. I’ve sent them home early and I’ll finish off here and then go see them.

“It is my last year playing over here in Super League and I am just trying to make the most of my game. If my last game was a win at DW Stadium, I’d take that.”

Fighting fit: Leeds Rhinos’ Rob Lui powers past a Wakefield tackler in their previous meeting in what he insists will be his final season in Super League. (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWPix.com)

Ten-year-old son Matthias is never far from his thoughts.

“We’ve found a good school for autism here,” added Lui, who joined Leeds from Salford Red Devils in 2019.

“Me and my partner didn’t really know what autism was as we had him young at 20, 21. We learnt along the way. But the awareness here is world class and it’s made me open up to disability and autism around the world.”

Lui, who helped Leeds beat Salford in last year’s Challenge Cup final, missed the opening three months of the campaign after tearing a quad in pre-season training. He also suffered from Covid but the experience and guile of the former North Queensland Cowboys is proving crucial now as Leeds – missing so many injured first-teamers – go in search of a fourth successive win.

Robert Lui wins the ball to go over Leeds' first try against Warrington last month (Picture: Steve Riding)

“I’m just happy I’m back playing, especially with these young boys that give me such a lift,” he said, with Leeds up to fifth spot.

“We’ve had a not-so good run this year with injuries and world-class players out but the boys that came in – Kruise Leeming playing out of position (at No7), Brad Dwyer in the middle and young (Morgan) Gannon playing back-row for Alex Mellor have been great.

“Harry Newman’s finding his feet the more games we play and I’m just proud of the boys. It was a great win but we must go again Monday.”

Lui, who has long standing ankle and knee issues, was “covered in ice” after the Wigan victory as he tried getting ready to back-up at Belle Vue.

Wakefield Trinity interim head coach Willie Poching. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

He added: “I want to finish off strong here for Super League because I came here for 2015 pre-season at Salford and have enjoyed every year since.

“I had my son – Michael – here and made England my home but it’s my last year.

“I’m looking forward to going back home but I still have unfinished business, too, before I go.

“I’ll recover well and put my best foot forward for Monday. It will be tough at Wakefield the way they are playing but we want to stay in the race for the top six.”

“We’ve a lot to play for. We want to be in the run for the semi-finals. Wigan was Tommy Briscoe’s 350th game so I’m happy we got the win for him and it was also the first time Leeds had won there in eight years so it was great.

“To nil them as well was good work from the boys. Everyone was on and it’s going to take that to make a run for these finals.”

Rhinos’ Zane Tetevano can play today despite receiving a three-game penalty notice after being charged by the RFL’s match review panel with a grade C reckless high tackle in the Wigan win.

To allow time for possible appeals, bans following incidents in the last round will not begin until Magic Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Wakefield have found their own form, winning 25-18 at Hull KR on Thursday – a second victory in three games since Willie Poching took over from the sacked Chris Chester.

Today is the third time they have met Leeds this term having lost by just six points in March and then through a controversial Golden Point penalty two months later, both at Headingley.

But Poching, who won the 2004 Grand Final with Leeds as a player, insisted: “There’s no paybacks. We are in a different frame of mind now and trying to hold on to some of the form and confidence we have.

“We can’t look back and think about anything along the revenge lines. It’s just about going out and doing the best we can with the side we roll out.”

Wakefield have lost Matty Ashurst and Chris Green to injuries but England centre Reece Lyne returns with Harry Bowes.