PLAYERS | Leilani Latu

latu-leilani.jpg

Panther 550

48 matches [2015-2017]

24 points [6 tries]

Stats: themightypanthers.com/players_latu-leilani.htm

Canterbury junior who played in the Under 20s and NSW Cup for the Bulldogs before joining up with the Panthers in 2014.

In the second half of the 2015 season, Latu made his NRL debut coming off the bench, and would subsequently make 5 more appearances off the bench in the last month of the regular season.

His solid form in those first NRL matches saw him earn a new contract and elevation to the NRL squad for 2016.

2016 was a breakout year for Latu – he made his representative debut for both the Indigenous All Stars and later for City Origin and would evolve from an impact player off the bench to a starting front rower throughout the season. Latu would make 24 appearances for Penrith in 2016, including the two finals matches.

Atypically for a forward, he possessed a passing game not to dissimilar to that of a player in the halves, which added another bow to his arsenal.

Latu continued to earn representative honours in 2017, this time being selected for his native Tonga. And whilst he would make 18 appearances in 2017, they would be all off the bench. His season was also cut short about a month out from the finals with a broken jaw.

Salary cap pressures would squeeze Latu out at the end of 2017, being successfully granted a release and joining the Gold Coast Titans. Injury and form would restrict him to just 9 appearances across two seasons, and would later be released to join the Warrington Wolves in the Super League for the start of the 2020 season. He was released by the Wolves in early 2021 and has remained in England, coaching junior grades in the Warrington area.

Last updated 24 November 2022

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