Seemingly ageless former Vodafone Warrior Thomas Leuluai has defied a knee injury to savour another Challenge Cup win with the Wigan Warriors.
The remarkable Leuluai, who turns 37 next month, helped Wigan to a last gasp 16-14 win in front of a crowd of 51,628 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
With the Giants leading 14-12, Wigan stole victory with a 76th-minute Liam Marshall try.
It was a shock 85-game Vodafone Warrior was able to play at all. He was expected to be out for two months with a knee injury but returned in five weeks, albeit with heavy strapping on his left knee as he took his place on the interchange bench.
It was Wigan’s 20th Challenge Cup and the second for Leuluai, his first back in 2011.
Now in his 20th first grade season since his Vodafone Warriors debut in 2003, Leuluai boasts close to 500 top level matches across his career – almost 450 at club level for the Vodafone Warriors (two stints), London Broncos and Wigan Warriors (also two stints) plus 40 Tests for the Kiwis.
He was one of two former Vodafone Warriors playing in the final with Tuimoala Lolohea at fullback for the Huddersfield. Lolohea had a costly off day with his goal kicking, managing just one goal from five attempts.
A number of ex-NRL players featured in the final, Wigan with Leuluai, Jai Field, Bevan French, Cade Cust, John Bateman and Patrick Mago while the Giants had Lolohea, Chris McQueen, Ricky Leutele, Danny Levi and Jack Cogger.