Vodafone Warriors utility Thomas Leuluai has been granted a release from the last year of his contract on compassionate grounds enabling him to return to England at the end of the 2016 NRL season.

The 31-year-old began his second stint with the club in 2013 after returning from eight seasons in the English Super League.

“Tommy is contracted until the end of next season but he approached us some time ago asking for a release so he and his family could return to England,” said Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle.

“While we were certainly keen to see him play out the term of his contract, Tommy has always made it clear he would go back to England at some stage.

“His leadership qualities and professionalism have been invaluable but we understand his desire to return to England and take comfort from the fact we have a number of options in his positions.

“For now he’s fully committed and passionate about giving the Vodafone Warriors all he can for the rest of this season.”

Leuluai said he was grateful to the club for clearing the way for him to take his English-born wife Natalie and their baby daughter back to the United Kingdom.

“My intention was to see out my time here,” he said.

“I’ve loved being in familiar surroundings even though we’ve had our share of challenges but we’ve reached a point where we would like to go back.

“I can’t thank the Vodafone Warriors enough for their understanding with this. Jim and Cappy (Andrew McFadden) have been fantastic about it.”

Leuluai is the second youngest NRL debutant in the Vodafone Warriors’ history. He was six weeks short of his 18th birthday when he played his first game against Canterbury Bankstown in May, 2003.

He played his 77th match for the Vodafone Warriors in their 27-18 win over the Gold Coast Titans at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday night.

It was his 304th first-grade appearance overall following 189 games for Wigan from 2007-2012 and 38 for the London Broncos/Harlequins from 2005-2006.

Leuluai has also played 34 Tests for the Kiwis since his debut in 2003.

  • The Wigan Warriors have this morning announced Leuluai has been re-signed on a contract which will see him become an assistant coach when his playing career finishes.