Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua has copped plenty for his high shot on Penrith’s Dylan Edwards and understandably so, but no spray has been bigger than what he received from coach Michael Maguire for his “brain snap.”
The 28-year-old coathangered Edwards, without the ball, in the Round 8 loss to the Panthers. He was sent to the bin and subsequently copped a four-week suspension for what many deemed a dog shot.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Leilua revealed just how much hot water he was in with Maguire afterwards.
‘‘The coach gave me the biggest spray I’ve had in my career,’’ Leilua told SMH.
‘I knew it was going to be bad because it didn’t happen straight after the game.
“I wish it had happened straight away. But it didn’t. He took some time to think about it and called me into his office after he had time to think.
“I thought I was ready for it … but it was so big the boys said they could hear it coming out of his office.’’
While the fiery centre didn’t dive into exactly what was said, he did reveal that Maguire told him is a long way off, physically and professionally, to what he should be as an NRL player.
‘‘That’s between me and the coach,’’ Leilua said.
‘‘But I can tell you that he was very honest with me.
“The main thing he told me was that I was not even close to where I need to be to be a professional player; that I am not prepared – not close.
“He said that I’ve got to learn how to react. And I’ve got to be physically fitter so that I make smarter decisions when I am under fatigue.
Maguire’s honesty rattled Leilua who is now afraid of losing his spot in the team altogether.
‘‘Of course, it’s scary to hear that because I’m worried if he will put me back in the side, but I know he is going to make sure I get flogged (in training).
“He is going to make me work hard over the next four weeks. I deserve it. I’ve let the team down.’’
Leilua’s emotions were running high when he hit Edwards. Earlier he had watched his young teammate Sam McIntyre be taken off for a HIA and then his brother, Luciano, get collected by Api Koroisau in a tackle and lay flat on the ground.
After Luciano was hit, Koroisau attempted to go over and apologise to Joey, who was standing over his brother, but Koroisau was greeted by a very angry Joey who was in no mood for apologies.
He’s admitted the rage overcame him and when he went after Edwards and concedes he needs to be “much better” in controlling it.
‘‘I knew it was coming, but when I did what I did I kind of blank out,’’ he said.
‘‘It just happens. I was angry that they took Macca (Sam McIntyre) out earlier in the game and then when my brother got hit, I didn’t hold back.
“My immediate thought was that if that was a high-profile player, a Cam Smith (hit high), there would have been action. Instead we lose players and nothing happens.
‘‘I know people have called it a dog shot what I did to Dylan (Edwards) and they can all have their opinions. I deserve that. It was a brain snap.
“I’ve got to be better. Much better. I can’t let that frustration get to me
A much more settled Leilua says he’s attempted to apologise to Edwards and is remorseful for his anger towards Koroisau.
‘‘I have been trying all week to get in touch with Dylan to apologise. I have not been able to get hold of him. I am sorry for that and I also know Api (Koroisau) meant no harm in the hit on my brother. He is not that kind of bloke.’’
He’s also conscious of the impact his actions can have on his young family. ‘‘I’ve got two young kids,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t want them to look at their dad and only think of things like what happened the other night. That would be very embarrassing.’