Leeds Rhinos ace Rob Lui wants early birthday treat against old club Salford Red Devils

Leeds Rhinos' Australian stand-off Rob Lui will make his 100th Betfred Super League appearance this weekend, against the team he came to England to play for.

Friday, 21st February 2020, 12:00 pm

Lui joined Salford Red Devils in 2016 and played 87 times in the competition for them before joining Rhinos midway through last season.

Saturday will be his first playing return to AJ Bell Stadium and he will go head-to-head with Tui Lolohea who moved the other way as part of the deal which brought Lui to Leeds.

And to add a little bit more spice to an already intriguing situation, Lui is hoping for a win as an early birthday present, the day before he turns 30.

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Rob Lui. Picture by Steve Riding.

“I am looking forward to it, it should be a good game,” Lui predicted.

“They are a well-drilled team and we are coming from a good win last weekend against Hull KR.

“We will take confidence out of that, but we know we are in for a tough game.”

Lolohea came out on top against his old club when Salford won at Emerald Headingley last September, only their second victory at Leeds during the summer era and fifth overall against Rhinos in Super League.

Tul Lolohea playing for Leeds last season. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The Red Devils went on to finish third in the table and reach their first Grand Final, being beaten by St Helens.

That was a case of what might have been for Lui, but he insisted he has no regrets.

“I was happy for them,” he said.

“I wasn’t really thinking that, everything happens for a reason and coming here I knew I had a job to do, that was to keep Leeds safe.”

Brad Dwyer. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Salford have lost two of their opening three games this term, including a 12-10 home reverse by Huddersfield Giants eight days ago.

But Lui warned: “The boys who got to the Grand Final, some of them are still there so they have got that DNA.

“Tui will be up for a big game against his old team - and the same for myself.

“We have just got to focus on us.

“When we played KR we had a good gameplan so we will have a look at Salford and go in with a good gameplan.

“We have to stick to it, complete our sets and put the ball in the corner.

“If we play like that we are a hard team to beat.

“If we get a good attacking set we can get our quick boys into the game.”

Lui was part of a thrilling half-back partnership at Salford, alongside 2019 Man of Steel Jackson Hastings who has since moved on to Wigan Warriors.

He is only two competitive games into his new combination with Luke Gale, but feels that could be just as effective.

“He is starting to get his mojo back and I can feed off him,” Lui said of the 2017 Man of Steel who missed the entire 2019 season due to injury.

“We have both been in the game a long time now and all we have to do is manage.

“We have got the speed and the size in the middle and out in the backs.

“Me and Galey have to stick to the gameplan Rich [Agar, Rhinos’ coach] gives us, manage the boys and put it in the corner.”

Last week’s nine-try victory highlighted what Rhinos are capable of when they do that.

Lui said: “I am feeling confident. Dog [Brad Dwyer] has changed his game heaps, which is credit to him and it’s not just those boys, there’s others pushing them like Cal [McLelland].

“He has been killing it in the Championship for a while now and he is keeping us on our toes.

“Richie Myler is pushing Dog for a spot and that’s full credit to him, he is playing out of position and doing what’s best for the team.

“He knows we trust him to do a job for the boys, wherever he plays.

“We have got a good mix, wherever anyone gets chucked in they want to do a job.”

Of his duel with Lolohea, Lui admitted both players have a point to prove.

Lolohea’s regular half-back partner Kevin Brown is suspended and Lui admitted: “There’ll be a lot on Tui, but he will be up for a big game against his old club, where things didn’t go that well.

“We owe them something because they beat us here so I think we have to go there with confidence, believing in our gameplan and ticking all the right boxes and hopefully we will come away with a win.

“That would put us in a good position going forward, but we can’t think too far ahead, we have to take it game by game.”