Leeds Rhinos have agreed to release prop Ava Seumanufagai so he can return to Australia for family reasons.
Seumanufagai joined Leeds from Cronulla Sharks in 2019 and made 32 appearances for the Super League club.
The 29-year-old was part of the side that won last season’s Challenge Cup but asked for an early release from his contract after travel restrictions due to Covid-19 prevented him from seeing his daughter in Australia.
Leeds director of rugby Kevin Sinfield said: “Ava spoke to myself and Richard Agar about the possibility of a release from the remaining year of his contract to return home for family reasons.
“We are sorry to see him leave the club but fully support and understand his decision.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had many profound impacts on our sport and I am certain in normal times, Ava would be happy to remain at the Rhinos for many years to come.
“We have remained in contact with Ava since he returned home so we were both aware of the latest situation with the pandemic.
“He was aware of how highly we still think of him but we understood the position he was in. He has now decided to stay in Australia and he leaves with our best wishes. He remains a friend of the club.”
Seumanufagai’s departure is offset by the signing of fellow New Zealander Zane Tetevano, who has joined Leeds on a three-year contract.
Seumanufagai added: “I loved being a part of such a great club. Sadly, I’ve made the decision to cut my time short so I can be home with my young daughter.
“With Covid-19 restrictions continuing into next year, the option to travel back and forth looks almost impossible.”
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