Kylie LEULUAI’S 11-year long association with Leeds Rhinos has drawn to a close after the West Yorkshire club’s most successful overseas player accepted a role as Warrington Wolves’ head of rugby operations.
The former Samoa prop won six Grand Finals with Leeds after joining from Manly Sea Eagles at the end of 2006 and played 258 games in the blue and amber.
I’ve been at seven different clubs over my career and I’ve loved the whole experience; different structures meeting new people, achieving objectives, and for me that’s an exciting challenge.Kylie Leuluai
Since his retirement in 2015, when he bowed out in style with the treble-winning Rhinos, Leuluai has been player welfare officer at Headingley.
He will now use those skills at Warrington but also his role will include taking on all administrative, logistical and operational aspects for the first-team, and integration with the youth grades.
Although his former Rhinos head coach Tony Smith has just left the Wolves, he has been replaced by Steve Price, the Cronulla Sharks assistant who was a former team-mate when Leuluai was just starting out at Balmain.
Warrington have also employed London Broncos head coach Andrew Henderson as an assistant and Leuluai said: “For me, going to a new club is always an exciting prospect.
“I’ve been at seven different clubs over my career and I’ve loved the whole experience; different structures meeting new people, achieving objectives, and for me that’s an exciting challenge. Another thing that’s appealing at Warrington is the staff there, they are all my age, it’s like a new generation coming in.
“I’ve played the likes of Jon Clarke, Richard Mathers, Andrew Henderson, Lee Briers and Karl Fitzpatrick, and played alongside Steve Price back in Australia.
“All I will try to do is add value to the club. I’m hoping to add to the culture from first-grade to youth department and pass on the knowledge that has helped me to achieve success.
“From the welfare perspective, I can relate to the players as I’ve been there and done that. I know what it takes to overcome the challenges they face – form or injury – and I’ll be able to help in those areas.”
The 39-year-old established a reputation as a consummate professional during his glittering career that also included two Challenge Cup and two World Club Challenge wins for Leeds.
Warrington were on the receiving end after he helped beat them in the 2012 Grand Final and, after the Wolves diced with relegation in the Qualifiers this term, they will hope he can start driving their standards back up.
Price revealed: “I played with Kylie back in 1999 at Balmain.
“He was always hardworking and diligent in his preparation and I saw that follow through into his playing style over at Leeds where he was very successful.
“He’s been on-board with the welfare at Leeds since retiring from playing and I feel he can bring that experience with him and contribute a lot to the culture within the club, instilling high standards across the board.
“He will be a great asset to all performance staff members and to what we are looking to build here at Warrington Wolves.”
Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “On behalf of everyone associated with Leeds Rhinos, I’d like to thank Kylie Leuluai for his outstanding service to the club for the past decade.”