He is not the first and will not be the last as St George Illawarra Dragons prop Leeson Ah Mau opts to return to the New Zealand Warriors.
Making his debut with the Warriors back in 2009, Ah Mau eventually moved to the Dragons side in 2012.
Since then, he played in 130 games for the Red V, won Players’ Player in 2015 and has been a fan favourite.
In the end, a return home was too good to turn down and the club understand Ah Mau’s decision, praising his time at the club.
“Leeson is a player we tried to retain but we also understood that there were a lot of other implications and they’re not always about money,” Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward said.
“He’s given outstanding service – not only this season, but his previous seasons – and he’s been a real benchmark for our other forwards in terms of how he’s gone about his business and the way he’s played the game.
The announced move now gives the Dragons a chance to search for an appropriate replacement on the open market.
“At the end of the day, we’re really delighted he’s been able to secure a contract,” continued Millward.
“We understand the reasons why he didn’t accept our offer and we can’t applaud him enough for what he’s done for the Dragons.
“We also appreciate that he signalled his intentions early so we have been active in the market place seeking a replacement for Leeson.”
The Dragons will always be near and dear to him but in the end, family means everything to Ah Mau.
“I love all the boys, the coaching staff and the fans so it was very tough,” Ah Mau said.
“I had to do what was right for my young family though. Having the support around my wife and daughter was the major factor.
“The Dragons will always hold a special place in my heart.
Despite his tenure ending at the end of the season, Ah Mau praised the club’s fans and wants to finish the 2018 season strongly.
“I definitely enjoyed my time here and I’m looking forward to finishing the year on a high,” the prop continued.
“I’ll miss everyone, especially the fans. They’ve been wonderful to me over the past seven years and I always love playing in front of them.”
The addition of Ah Mau is a boost for the Warriors pack and the club are pleased.
“Leeson will be a wonderful addition to our squad from next season,” said Warriors coach Stephen Kearney.
“He’s a big forward who is consistently one of the Dragons’ best week in, week out.”
Ah Mau is just the sort of player the Warriors are looking for and Kearney knows he will have a good impact.
“He fits the mould of the type of player we’re building our squad around – tough, durable and with a tremendous attitude in all he does on and off the field,” the Warriors coach continued.
“We’ve always had an interest in him as did a number of clubs, so we’re really excited he was keen to come back home and join the club he started with.”