Ali Lauiti’iti says former Leeds Rhinos man could have been “star” in the NRL

Ali Lauiti’iti is one of the best mid-season signings in Super League history.

The Rhinos were leading the way in 2004, but the addition of Lauiti’iti was a cruel blow to their rivals only adding to their attacking prowess.

He helped Leeds finish top as they only lost twice during the regular season, a record, prior to winning a first Grand Final.

In 2005, Lauiti’iti would continue to go from strength to strength scoring five tries in one game against Wakefield Trinity away.

By the end of his Leeds career in 2011, he had played 200 games for the club, won five Grand Finals and even scored a crucial try in their 2007 decider win over St Helens.

He then joined Wakefield in 2012 but played his last ever game with Leeds in a friendly against New Zealand in 2015.

One of the all-time great overseas players in Super League, Lauiti’iti has put together his all-time 17 on the NRL website and has included a number of Super League stars.

Leeds teammates Brent Webb and Clinton Toopi feature at fullback and centre respectively whilst Kylie Leuluai is on the bench.

Whilst Bradford Bulls trio Lesley Vainikolo, Shontayne Hape and David Solomonoa are also all included.

There’s two English men in the team with former Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield named at loose-forward.

Speaking about Sinfield, Lauiti’iti claimed he could have been a star in the NRL.

He said: “A great leader. A creative player who had the skill of a half, but the body and work ethic to play in the middle or on the edge. Such a versatile player, he was good enough to have been a star in the NRL too.”

He also included Rob Burrow in the halves, who continues his courageous fight against Motor Neurone Disease, as he paid tribute to the explosive halfback: “He did some exciting things on the field and was one of those players who is rare to come across. Three foot tall and the heart of a giant. He was a player to remember.”

You can see his full 17 here.

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