MacGraff Leuluai relieved by Matty Russell return

Widnes Vikings backrower MacGraff Leuluai has spoken of his relief at seeing Warrington’s Matty Russell return to the field just two weeks after the Wolves fullback came off worse in a clash between the pair.

Leuluai faced no further action for the challenge in the opening play-off clash between the two sides. But Russell had to be stretchered off the field. Scans later cleared him of any serious injury, leaving the 21-year-old with only a fat lip and missing some front teeth.

Russell returned to the Wolves squad to face Wigan on Friday night and Leuluai was pleased to see him out there once again.

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“To see someone lying there with all the stretchers and doctors around him is never nice to see,” Leuluai told League Express.

“You never want to see another player go through something like that. And to know you were the one that caused it does make you feel really bad, which I did that day.

“I am friends with him and sent him a message straight after the game. He’s a good guy and knows I didn’t mean it, which is nice.

Russell tweeted an image of himself after leaving hospital
Russell tweeted an image of himself after leaving hospital

“I also sent him a message when he was out wishing him all the best, and saying I hoped he could get back soon. So to see him play again at the weekend was great.”

Leuluai last week committed his future to Widnes by signing a 12-month extension to his current deal, meaning he will remain at the Select Security stadium until the end of 2016.

The 24-year-old has improved greatly during his three years with the club and is now looking forward to seeing where he and the Vikings can go over the next two seasons.

“I am enjoying my time here so it was an easy decision to sign the new deal,” added Leuluai, who still had a year remaining on his current deal.

“When I first got a crack at playing in Super League I was just happy to be there, but now I’ve got to make bigger and better goals. The aim to reach them and really have an impact in the team and in Super League.

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“We have had a great season and can be happy that we reached the Challenge Cup semi-final and made the play-offs for the first time ever. But there’s disappointment too, because we know we could have gone further.

“We will have the same core group of players next year who all want to keep improving. The experience we have gained this year from what we have achieved should help us go one step further next season.”