Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Earlier today it was confirmed that Luciano Leilua will be leaving the Wests Tigers after taking up a three-year deal worth $2.1 million with the North Queensland Cowboys commencing in 2023.
However, it seems the 2005 NRL Grand Final opponents are already in the process of working out a deal to get the Samoan International to Townsville a year early.
The Cowboys have many promising forwards coming through their ranks and one, in particular, has caught the Tigers’ eye.
Heilum Luki burst onto the scene last season in the second row for the Cowboys, with the 20-year-old making his debut for the club against Newcastle in round 11.
‘How highly he is valued on effort’
The Cowboys face a $2.1M reality check on Luciano Leilua that could see two young guns depart 👀👀
— Fox League (@FOXNRL) November 25, 2021
Luki would go on to play in 11 games for the Cowboys scoring three tries, making four line breaks, averaging 66 running metres per game and making 225 tackles for an efficiency rate of 92.6%, not bad for a rookie predominantly played off the bench.
Fox League’s James Hooper is reporting that the Tigers would be willing to let Leilua go to the Cowboys a season early if they can get Luki in return.
“The Cowboys landed the shock signing of Leilua on a three-year deal worth around the $2.1 million on Wednesday but the Tigers will only release the backrower if both clubs can negotiate a fair and reasonable outcome,” said Hooper.
“North Queensland have two of the best emerging backrowers in the NRL in the form of Helium Luki and Jeremiah Nanai and the Tigers have already begun the process of trying to land one of them.
“Luki, 20, stands 195cms and impressed in 11 NRL matches last year when Cowboys coach Todd Payten opted to blood the generation next of talent in North Queensland.
“The Tigers aren’t the only rival club eyeing Luki after the rookie backrower impressed with his first foray into the NRL.”
If this deal can get done then it is certainly a win-win for both sides, as the Cowboys will get their man a year early and the Tigers will get a promising replacement for Leilua that will cost them much less.