Leeds Rhinos: Leuluai in rude health following a heart op’

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RETIRED FRONT-ROWER Kylie Leuluai is back to full fitness following surgery to repair a heart complaint.

Leuluai played his final competitive game when Rhinos beat Wigan Warriors last October to complete the domestic treble, though he also featured in their exhibition game against his native New Zealand two weeks later.

Kylie Leuluai.

Kylie Leuluai.

In the wake of the Old Trafford victory he revealed he had been playing with an irregular heartbeat, which was initially believed to be asthma and limited the amount of time he was able to spend on the field, but that has now been resolved.

“I had an operation on my arrhythmia,” Leuluai confirmed.

“That was two weeks before Christmas and it has worked out, which is great.

“You get three attempts and luckily the first one worked.

“I just wish I had done it two years ago, then I would have finished how I wanted to.

“It worked out well, I finished on my terms, but in terms of form it would have been better if I’d had it done earlier.”

Leuluai insisted he has no regrets about hanging up his boots.

“None whatsoever,” he said. “I am playing a lot of tennis, squash and badminton at the moment – I love racquet sports.

“I am busy with my children too and their sports.

“I have got more time to myself and more time to the family, which is one of the reasons I wanted to finish.

“When you are playing your weekends are written off, whether you are playing a match or training or being physically tired and not capable of giving your family 100 per cent.

“Now every weekend is free.”

Leuluai added: “I am 38 next month and I am enjoying the new challenge of not knowing what the future holds.

“I have a few goals and plans, but I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.”

Leuluai has remained on the staff at Headingley, taking over from another former Leeds prop Barrie McDermott as Rhinos’ player welfare officer.

“I started that during last season,” he said.

“Barrie was drip-feeding me things and teaching me what was required.

“I am really enjoying that. I am enjoying helping motivate the players to understand there’s more to life than just playing rugby.

“Anything can happen at any time, through injury or loss of form.

“You have just got to prepare yourself for whatever may come, such as through education.

“I am liaising with universities such as Leeds Beckett and Leeds City College and making them pro-active.”

Leuluai said he was keen to give something back to the game after his lengthy playing career, which began at the Australian club Balmain Tigers in 1999.

“The great thing is they are my old team-mates and I have a good relationship with the players,” he said.

“To help them, I think there is no better feeling. To do that as a job, I am thankful for the opportunity.”