NRL 2024: Luciano Leilua requests immediate release from North Queensland Cowboys

Cowboys forward Luciano Leilua has requested an immediate release from North Queensland with an eye to rejoining the St. George Illawarra Dragons.

Leilua debuted for the Dragons in 2016 and played 43 games for the club before stints with the Tigers and most recently the Cowboys.

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According to The Daily Telegraph, Leilua is keen to wear the Red V again however there is at least one other club who is chasing the 27-year-old.

Leilua has played solid football since joining the Cowboys at the start of the 2022 season, however his time up north has been plagued with controversy.

In October 2022, he was charged with two counts of assault but those charges wound up being dropped last year.

More recently, Leilua was caught drink driving and had his licence suspended for a month.

If the Dragons decide to sign Leilua, they will have to release at least one player from their current roster given they already have 30 contracted.

The Cowboys have a glutton of back rowers on the books, with the move likely to help accommodate keeping young gun Kulikefu Finefeuiaki and the talented Heilum Luki.

Finefeuiaki comes off contract at the end of this season while Luki has a player option for 2025.

The news comes after Cowboys coach Todd Payten slammed the door on possibly moving on club stalwart Jason Taumalolo after stripping him of captaincy.

Payten then went on radio, where he said the captaincy call was “a long-term decision” before adding: “Looking at our group, a few guys right at the back end of their career and over the course of the next 12 months or next two seasons, they won’t be here for a number of reasons and we needed to make a shift in that regard so that we had enough time to give the support that Tommy and Reubs need to develop into the best captain they can be when all that experience around them is gone.”

But Payten hit back last week, calling it “an agenda”.

“I can assure you of this – Jason will not be at any other club. That won’t happen on my watch. He is happy here and staying here,” Payten said.

Originally published as Luciano Leilua’s shock Cowboys exit bid as clubs circle

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