LEEDS RHINOS prop Kylie Leuluai (right) is relishing this weekend’s Cup showdown with his former team-mate and great friend Ali Lauitiiti (opposite).
Leuluai reckons the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats forward will be a huge threat to Rhinos’ hopes of making it into the draw for the fifth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
The New Zealand-born duo are two of Rhinos’ most successful overseas players of all time, with Leuluai having won five Super League Grand Finals and Lauitiiti four, but neither of them has yet got his hands on the most famous knockout trophy in rugby league and with both of them at the veteran stage, Leuluai knows tyime is running out.
“Every game is important to me,” said Leuluai. “When you get to my age you enjoy every game and I’m looking forward to Sunday.
“It will be good to play against Ali. It was a good thing for him, the move. It has freshened him up and he is one of their key players, one of the reasons why they are going so well. He is still strong, he is playing well and he is a key asset for them.”
Leuluai, who celebrated his 36th birthday two days ago, is confident Rhinos will be better this weekend following their first defeat of the season, 14-10 at St Helens on Friday night.
He said: “I suppose when you get to my age you enjoy everything – win or loss. You enjoy playing.
“I can switch off and get ready for Wakefield. Other players may dwell on it, but it comes with age and experience. I am just focused on this week.”
Of the defeat at Langtree Park, Leuluai said: “It was a tough game, which is what we expected around the middle. They have got some big boys and they did a really good job.
“There were a couple of areas that let us down. I thought we switched off a couple of times – once when they had a try disallowed and then they caught us again on the last play.
“We switched off and that made all the difference. We have got to keep working hard, always.
“That’s the game, there’s always little areas you think you can get away with – but you can’t, you get found out and that’s what happens.”
Saints were well below strength and Leuluai felt they deserved huge credit for their performance.
“They have got some quality players who did a really good job,” he said.
“Credit to them, they played really well. Both teams turned up to play, but just some small areas let us down and we paid for it by losing the two points. It’s tough, but that’s sport.
“We have to work on that for next week – if you do make an error, you will be better in the next game.
“We will learn from it, you always learn from your mistakes.”