Who’s the best centre in the NRL? ‘You’re looking at him’: Tigers’ new recruit does not lack confidence
March 5, 2020 11:08am
Source: FOX SPORTS
Joey Leilua sits in the Concord Oval grandstand, just one row far back enough to stay out of the Sydney rain.
With a journalist’s recorder in front of his face he’s asked the question - who is the best centre in the NRL?
Leilua answers in the same manner he runs the footy - quick, direct, confident.
“You’re looking at him.”
The response offered to foxsports.com.au will be interpreted as cocky or arrogant by some, but it’s something different altogether.
It’s a confident belief that he can, realistically, be the best three-quarter in rugby league. And it’s been proven with two Dally M awards for centre of the year, in 2016 and 2018.
That self belief is a trait he’s passing onto younger brother Luciano, now teammates at the Wests Tigers.
“If you’re talking about who’s the best… you’re looking at him. I won’t sugar coat that, it’s not funny,” Leilua said.
“I always said if I really want it I can do it. The only thing that stopped me last year was my injury. I was going towards that, being the best, then unfortunately got a serious injury.
“I want to instil that into my brother, say look, if you want to be the best you’ve got to be the best, train the best, train to where you are capable of.
“I know what it takes to be the best, because you don’t become a two-time Dally M (centre of the year) for nothing, the NRL don’t give it to you if you’re not the best.
“I did the hard work, I know what it takes.”
Leilua, 28, is about to notch up his fourth club since debuting in the NRL in 2010.
Over a decade at the Roosters, Knights, and Raiders he’s forged a repuation as one of the most damaging ball runners in the competition.
He and new coach Michael Maguire have been honest from their very first meeting on what club and player want to achieve in his time at the Tigers.
Leilua signed a three-year deal, but he revealed he’s put a timeframe of four more seasons on his career in the NRL.
He would be 32 years old by the time that period ends.
“I said look, I’ve got four more years of my best footy. I’ve put a time limit on myself, I want to enjoy my time here and make the most of every year,” Leilua said.
“If I still go on then I go on, if I can’t I’ll be happy to settle down and take the kids to the pool.
“I said I’ve got four more years of my best footy, my best, and I’m going to give it my all. If I can still hang on, if I can still be there and help the team I will. If I don’t have the passion for it I won’t play.
“I’m still driven by the game, I still want to be the best. If I wasn’t wanting that then there’s no point in me playing.
“I want to do four more years and I want to be the best centre for four more years, I want to be that.”
By all reports Leilua is thriving in his new environment after leaving Canberra and moving “home” in the off-season.
He’s been staying with younger brother Luciano but will move his partner and young family into their new house on Monday, before lining up for his Tigers debut against the Dragons in Round 1.
seems like he is really looking forward to this season, which is good for us
GNR4LIFE last edited by
The ingredients are there for him to be the buy of the season. New club, new coach, playing next to his brother, and wants to stick it to his old club. Big expectations on this guy.
Expecting a very interesting ride this season. I’ll back him to win us quite a few games. Might lose one or two though
He is a special player. His brother is great as well.
Huge momentum, if true
I can’t wait, especially after getting a taste last weekend
avocadoontoast last edited by
Can’t think of many centre’s i’d swap him for (if any). His performance in the trial against the Warriors was awesome. Looked fast too!
JC99 last edited by
He’s got a fire in his belly. He’s in for a big year. Article about his brother out today as well, he seems just as keen to have a good year.
WT2K last edited by WT2K
Can’t wait to watch The Weapon unleashed. 10 days to go.
weststigers last edited by
He’s the GOAT
love the confidence, as long as he keeps his head he’ll prove it.
Spartan117 last edited by
A good year from BJ and others will help legitimise the NEW Tigers under Maguire and help us attract a better grade of ;players than we have ever seen.
AJ1 last edited by
I’m liking his signing even more. Good to see a player willing to back himself rather than shy away from pressure and accountability
jirskyr last edited by
Well, can’t complain about a lack of a winning mentality. He certainly is ferocious.