Joey Leilua: Featherstone Rovers sign former NRL centre of the year

Featherstone Rovers have boosted their hopes of promotion to Betfred Super League next year by signing two-time NRL centre of the year Joey Leilua.

By Peter Smith
Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 2:56 pm
Joseph Leilua, left, in action for Samoa against Papua New Guinea at the 2013 World Cup. Picture by Alex Whitehead/
Joseph Leilua, left, in action for Samoa against Papua New Guinea at the 2013 World Cup. Picture by Alex Whitehead/

The 29-year-old Australian-born Samoa international is “one of the most significant signings in our history”, according to Rovers chairman Mark Campbell.

Leilua was released by Wests Tigers in September and has also played for Sydney Roosters, Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders.

Rovers have been runners-up in each of the past two Championship Grand Finals and coach Brian McDermott insisted recruiting Leilua is “another clear demonstration of this club’s unwavering ambition and focus on gaining Super League promotion”.

He said: “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 [and] we’re looking forward to working together to achieve our Super League objective.”

Leilua is the second Samoan international to join Rovers’ 2022 squad, after former Castleford Tigers forward Jesse Sene-Lefao.

“He’ll bring something we’ve not had before,” Sene-Lefao said of Leilua.

“He’s like a big front-rower out wide. He brings that skill and flair alongside size and strength that I think will be great for us next year.”

Campbell added: “I’m really pleased Joey has signed; he’s a fantastic acquisition for Featherstone.

“This is one of the most significant signings in our history, for the Championship and for rugby league in this country.

“He’s a player in his prime at 29 who has been recognised as one of the best in the game with his Dally M awards. His 225 NRL appearances underline that fact. This is the level at which this club is now operating and there’ll be plenty more to come.”

Before joining the club, Leilua will take on former England international Chris Heighington in a boxing match on Friday, December 10.

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