Leeds Rhinos sign Robert Lui as Tui Lolohea heads to Salford Red Devils
AUSTRALIAN stand-off Robert Lui says he is looking forward to the “challenge” at Leeds Rhinos after the club paid an undisclosed fee to sign him from Salford Red Devils.
Tui Lolohea, the high-profile Tonga international who only joined from Wests Tigers at the start of the season, has moved the other way as Leeds - joint-bottom of Super League - continue doing the business they feel necessary to avoid relegation.
Former North Queensland Cowboys star Lui, 29, has initially joined on loan for the rest of this campaign but also agreed a two year contract at Headingley from 2020.
He has spent four seasons at the AJ Bell Stadium making more than appearances and scoring 31 tries while, on his day, proving one of Super League's most dynamic playmakers.
Lui comes straight into Leeds’ squad for Sunday’s game against Catalans Dragons and director of rugby Kevin Sinfield - who has also today announced a deal for Hull KR hooker Shaun Lunt - expressed his delighted at getting a player of such “experience” on board.
He added: “He has proven his quality in Super League over the last four seasons and I know the players are looking forward to working with him.
“I would like to thank Ian Blease and Ian Watson at Salford for their co-operation throughout the process and we wish Tui Lolohea all the best with his move to the AJ Bell Stadium.”
Lui added: "It is great to be here. I can't wait to pull on the Leeds jersey and run out at Emerald Headingley.
“Having spoken with Richard Agar, I know what he wants from me for the team and I am looking forward to the challenge here at the Rhinos."
Lolohea, 24, arrived at Leeds looking to solve their No6 problem but struggled to make an impact there and many of his 17 appearances instead came at full-back.
He was away on international duty last weekend but could come straight in for his Salford debut against Wigan Warriors on Friday night.
Lolohea has joined on loan until the end of the season but then agreed a two-year deal with the Red Devils who sit fifth and are challenging for the play-offs.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to playing with Salford.
“They’re going really well this year and I’m excited for this new journey.
“I want to add my energy to the team and link up Jackson Hastings.
“He’s been having a great year, competing to be the Man of Steel, so I can’t wait to play alongside him.”
Lolohea added: “The level of footy at Salford has been really high and I think I can get back to playing my best there.
“I had a good discussion with Ian Watson yesterday and he thinks I will really fit into their style of play.
“This is a new challenge for me and I really want to be competing in those play-offs with Salford.”
Salford Red Devils director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “We’re really pleased to have Tui joining us at the Salford Red Devils.
“Tui is an outstanding player, who has shown his pure quality at international level and over in the NRL.
“I’m sure Coach Watson will help him express himself on the pitch for the Red Devils in our quest for a top five position in Super League and I’m also very excited to see him link up with Jackson Hastings.
“As part of the deal, we also say goodbye to Rob Lui.
“Rob has been a superb servant for Salford and I would like to thank him for his time at the club. He can leave and be proud how he has performed in the Red Devils shirt.
“He had been weighing up his options for next year and then this move became a possibility.
“Thank you to Kevin Sinfield for working on this deal with me, which suits all parties.”