Widnes Vikings today announced that Macgraff Leuluai has signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him at the club until the end of the 2015 season
Wakefield-born Macgraff is the latest member of the Leuluai dynasty to play in this country. The younger brother of current New Zealand international Thomas and the son of former New Zealand representative James, he came through the junior ranks with the Auckland Sea Lions, Sydney Roosters and Newcastle Knights, and was capped at U16 level for New Zealand.
As an 18 year-old, Leuluai signed for Leigh, and having demonstrated his potential with the Centurions, he moved to Widnes in 2011 – enjoying a successful year which culminated in him being selected in the Championship All Star team. His performances also earned him a Super League contract, following the club’s return to the top flight.
Described by his Head Coach Denis Betts as a player who is ‘always full bore and never gives less than 100%’, the 23 year-old says that he is delighted to further his stay at the Vikings, commenting; “I’m happy to sign for another two years at Widnes. Individually and as a team, we are working hard and learning each day.
“By the end of this contract, I will have been in this country for 7 years, which is definitely longer than I ever thought I’d be here. I came over initially to live with my brother, and to have at a crack at making a success of it as a player. I’m still enjoying my time over here and I’m excited and pleased to have been offered the opportunity to stay at the club.
“I’ve got a lot more growing to do and I’m really looking forward to doing this, in a Widnes jersey.
“It’s a good time to be at the club and the only way is up for us. We’ve progressed massively from last year and if we continue to do that at a similar rate, then we will certainly be there or thereabouts over the next couple of years.”
Denis Betts added: “This contract extension is a really good indication of the continued hard work that is going on at the club.
“Macgraff joined us from the Championship, played a big part in our Championship team and from the day he first arrived, he has always displayed a willingness to work hard.
“Now that he’s got a good number of Super League games under his belt, he is really starting to blossom. He has a much better understanding of the top-flight competition, and his effort levels and his ability are shining through because he’s used to playing at that level now.
“Rewarding somebody like Macgraff who has taken and made the most of, an opportunity that was offered to him, was an easy decision to reach. He knows his place in this team and is well aware of exactly what his role is. He enjoys the company of his team-mates and is a valued member of the group
“What people don’t see with Macgraff is how big his heart is. He might not look as big as some of the other blokes, but I can assure you, he tackles and runs the ball as hard as anybody else on the pitch.
“Given his young age, there is still so much more to come from him and I am really pleased that he has made the decision to remain at the club.”