Melbourne Storm GM of football Frank Ponisi has revealed the club look set to finalise the signing of Ricky Leutele by Tuesday morning.
Like recently returned cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams, Leutele played for the now-collapsed Super League outfit Toronto Wolfpack which folded two weeks ago.
The former Sharks premier is reportedly still owed around $80,000 from the Wolfpack and hasn’t been paid in more than two months as he remains stranded with his family in Manchester.
Late last week Leutele kickstarted a bid to return to the NRL which now looks set to come to fruition overnight after the league initially looked to block the move, Ponisi said.
“Just a few little things to finalise there, but yeah we’re very hopeful we can get that done overnight,” Ponisi told WWOS Radio on 2GB. “He’ll be a welcome addition.
“We had one more spot in our 30 and we’ve been waiting to see what position will fill that in. Just the last two weeks, we’ve had every centre in the club injured. With Paul Momirovski being the most serious, out for close to the end of the season.
“We just thought that was a position, the outside backs, where we needed a bit of strength. When he became available, he’s a premiership winner with the sharks, played nine seasons there – we just thought it was too good of an opportunity to not take up.
“Hopefully we can get it done overnight and announce that tomorrow morning.”
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The Storm reportedly only have around $35,000 left in their salary cap which Leutele is more than happy to accept in the current climate.
The NRL’s salary cap team valued Leutele at around $60,000 for the remainder of the season which was the point of contention for the game’s administrators. They were eventually backed into a corner, however, after their hoop-jumping to bring Williams into the Roosters’ roster at a cut-price deal.
Leutele scored 30 tries in 129 games for the Sharks and was a mainstay of their side during the premiership campaign. He has played six Tests for Samoa.