‘Harsh lessons’: Maguire urges Leilua to consider his legacy
Author - Margie McDonald
NRL.com Senior Reporter
Timestamp - Thu 6 Aug 2020, 10:01 AM
There’s been a few heart-to-heart conversations between coach Michael Maguire and his enigmatic centre Joseph Leilua over the past month.
After serving a four-game ban for an off-the-ball hit on Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards, Leilua makes his return against the Knights on Saturday.
Maguire has been impressed by Leilua’s response to his latest indiscretion but is adamant the 28-year-old needs to think carefully about how he wants to be remembered when his career is done.
“He’s had some harsh lessons this last month about what he can do for this club and his teammates,” Maguire told NRL.com.
"I know his potential. We all saw in the first eight rounds what he can do. But that moment in time [the dangerous contact on Edwards] just takes you away from what he’s capable of.
"He’s worked extremely hard for the past month to not only keep his body in really good nick, but think on the bigger picture.
"He knows he can’t go back, it’s what he does moving forward that counts.
“I’ve spoken to Joey about the legacy he can build here at this club because you need players of his calibre to get you to the pointy end [of a season].”
Maguire had spoken to Raiders coach Ricky Stuart about Leilua so he knew what he was signing up for when he acquired the Samoan international.
Leilua scored 45 tries in five seasons with the Green Machine and created more than half that again in try assists for his wingman Jordan Rapana before moving to Wests Tigers this season.
Due to his imposing 107kg frame, Maguire wants Leilua to be just as good a defender as he is in attack.
“He has a great understanding and knowledge of the game. It’s top notch, so to be able to have players of that calibre and experience is great,” he said of the 212-gamer.
"It’s well-known we’re changing the identity of what we want to be as a club and he can play a big part in that.
"Backing up game after game is how this club grows. We all know how great Joey is with his attack but he’s got to work hard with his defence.
"If he gets his body right it will help with that. And he’s worked hard in the month he’s had off so he can handle those big moments when you’ve got an attacking raid coming at you.
“You’ve got to be mentally on and by being physically fit at that moment in time, it allows you to think better.”
Given Leilua’s propensity to snap, the Knights are bound to try and get under his skin but Maguire is in no doubt the message has sunk in about turning the other cheek.
“You’ve got to do right by the team and that’s playing a disciplined game and work within the processes of our game plan,” Maguire said.
"He understands those things and it’s about doing those things over and over.
“We want him out there as he’s one hell of a weapon with the ball in open space, and we need him to do that for 80 minutes every game.”