Jukes praises Moimoi for raising profile Down Under

Fuifui Moimoi
Fuifui Moimoi
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Neil Jukes has described Fuifui Moimoi, who is to leave the club after failing to agree a new contract, as a “brilliant professional ”.

The former Parramatta Eels prop was described as one of the club’s biggest ever signings when he arrived at Leigh in 2014. Moimoi was a first-team regular until he suffered a serious infection earlier this year which saw him hospitalised.

It was the start of the club getting to a higher level in terms of credibility and as a brand

Neil Jukes

After making a full recovery, he played a key role in helping Leigh top the Kingstone Press Championship for a third successive year.

But when Moimoi and his agent finally came back to the club to discuss the original contract offer, Leigh told him that they had moved on and already filled his spot in the squad for 2016.

“Fuifui was offered a deal and he wasn’t comfortable with it,” said Leigh coach Jukes. “We put a deadline on it but by the time he and his agent got back to us, we had already made other plans.

“Even though this was going on in the background, Fui kept playing tough and his performances last season were probably better than his first year with us. He made a huge impact on and off the pitch.

“It was the start of the club getting to a higher level in terms of credibility and as a brand.

“His signing made headlines not just here but also in Australia. In many ways, he was our tunnel to get through to a lot of people in Australia and he helped us to attract players like Travis Burns and Glenn Stewart. Fui is a brilliant professional.”

Moimoi’s departure has heightened speculation about new arrivals at the club and last week Catalans hooker Eloi Pellisier told a French newspaper that he had signed a two-year deal with Leigh.

“We will confirm signings in due course,” said Jukes.

“We have four signings nailed down and a few more on the radar and when the time is right we will announce them.”

Jukes and the Leigh players have just returned from a break in Portugal, a reward for their promotion winning season from owner Derek Beaumont. There were reports on Twitter – allegedly from other guests at the resort but later removed – that the Leigh players were behaving badly.

Jukes has denied the stories saying: “There was not one bit of trouble – we weren’t thrown out of anywhere. It was a good exercise and certainly not as mad as social media would have you believe.

“There were fans from a lot of other clubs in the same resort and we enjoyed some banter with them and made some new friends.”