Leeds Rhinos v Hull KR: Why retiring Rob Lui still has unfinished business
AUSTRALIAN STAND-OFF Rob Lui is preparing for an emotional farewell to Emerald Headingley tonight.
Lui, 31, is retiring from elite-level rugby league at the end of this season and the visit of Hull KR will be his final home game as a Leeds Rhinos player.
“I am going to miss the place,” said Lui, who played in Rhinos’ Challenge Cup final win last year.
“My first-ever game for the club was here at Headingley and Rob [Burrow] presented me with my jersey.
“This is my last, I have played two and a bit years at the club and it has been home.
“I have enjoyed every game so it is going to be emotional, but I am going to focus on getting the win to cement our spot in the six.”
Lui joined Leeds from Salford Red Devils midway through 2019, as part of a deal which saw Tui Lolohea move the other way.
He had spent three and a half seasons at Salford, after playing for Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys during his NRL career.
Lui has scored 10 tries and a drop goal in 34 games for Leeds, though a pre-season quad injury, hamstring issue and concussion mean today will be only his eighth appearance of 2021.
Reflecting on his Leeds career, Lui said: “I have enjoyed my time here, 100 per cent.
“I have enjoyed my time at both clubs and in Super League and Leeds gave me my first trophy.
“I will forever have that in my heart and coming over here has made me a better person, a better rugby league player and a better father.
“I will take that any day.”
Lui was born in Townsville, Queensland and will begin a new career there working with young people when he leaves Leeds.
“I am looking to work with the youth back home,” he revealed.
“That’s what I want to do, let the young kids know there is life outside your home town if you work hard and get your head down.
“I’ll be, like, being a big brother, to young kids who have been through a tough time, just helping them out.
“I can tell them none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, but it is what you learn from it.
“That’s what I want to do, especially back home with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait kids who are close to my upbringing, because that’s how I was when I was younger.”
That is for later, at the moment Lui’s job is to help Leeds secure their play-off spot.
He confirmed he has recovered from the Magic Weekend head knock which kept him out of last Friday’s 40-6 defeat at St Helens.
“I’ll be back against KR, it is a must-win for us,” Lui said.
“We have just got to focus on our game.
“This week in training our mindset has been it is a must-win for us.
“With everything that’s gone on this year, I think it’s a credit to the club and to the boys were are still in that [top] six.”
If Leeds secure a play-off position, they will travel to either third-placed Warrington Wolves next Friday or Wigan Warriors, who are fourth, 24 hours earlier.
Leeds won at Warrington in July and away to Wigan last month and Lui insisted: “100 per cent we would go into that with confidence.”
They were two of Rhinos’ best results this year and Lui reckons - after last week’s setback - they need to “go back to what we were doing” in those games.
“St Helens came out firing and they are the benchmark of the comp’,” he added.
“They are the champions and they showed us what you have to do to win the comp’.
“We will refocus ourselves and start again this week with KR.”
Since a four-game losing run early in the campaign, Rhinos have tended to respond well to defeats this year and will need to do so again tonight.
“Training this week has been upbeat,” Lui said.
“There’s been a lot of energy and everyone’s been focused because we know we are coming to the business end.
“We all want to play in the finals [play-offs] and big games and it starts at our home ground this week.
“Headingley will be packed out, it’s our last home game [of the season] and the last home game for a few of us who are leaving.
“We are going to give it our all.”
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