Former NRL star Joey Leilua solves his biggest issue by finding new club

Alex ConradNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: The Daily Telegraph

After being let go by the Wests Tigers in a messy split, Joey Leilua has found a new home in the form of English second division club Featherstone Rovers.

Leilua endured a horror 2021 season with the Tigers, as he was dropped to reserve grade by Michael Maguire and struggled to break into the starting side.

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A two-time Dally M centre of the year, the 29-year-old also took a swipe at Maguire in a brazen Instagram post where he claimed he “wouldn’t play for someone that blames the team all the time”.

But with his career at a major crossroad, Leilua has found a new place to call home with the Featherstone Rovers.

Bringing the Samoan international to the West Yorkshire club was a major coup for Rovers coach Brian McDermott as they look to get out of the second division.

“This signing is another clear demonstration of this club’s unwavering ambition and focus on gaining Super League promotion,” McDermott said in a club statement.

“Joey brings a level of experience and raw ability that is unrivalled in the championship. He’ll add some serious size, strength and focused aggression which will help this side go up to another level.

“I’ve had many conversations with Joey over the last few weeks. We’re looking forward to working together to achieve our Super League objective.”

Rovers chairman Mark Campbell echoed a similar sentiment to McDermott, describing Leilua as “one of the most significant signings in our history”.

“He’s a player in his prime at 29 years old who’s been recognised as one of the best in the game with his Dally M awards; his 225 NRL appearances underline that fact,” Campbell said.

“It’s been quite frustrating to see some of the recent comments from fans about new signings. I can tell you now that this is the level at which this club is now operating and there’ll be plenty more to come.”

Before Leilua can get stuck in with the Rovers, he has a boxing fight to take care of first.

The former NRL star will take on retired 2005 premiership winner Chris Heighington as a curtain-raiser to Paul Gallen’s bout with Sea Eagles forward Josh Aloiai on December 10.

Leilua has never had a professional boxing match in his life but believes his experience of “mainly pub fights” will hold him in good stead when he steps into the ring for his debut.

Originally published as Former NRL star Joey Leilua solves his biggest issue by finding new club

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