Joey Leilua has promised no more brain snaps, and wants to make it up to his Canberra teammates for his latest misdemeanour in Monday’s NRL clash with Canterbury.
The centre returns for the battle at Belmore after serving a two-week suspension for a spear tackle on Shaun Kenny-Dowell in the Raiders’ round-two win over the Sydney Roosters.
He was cleared to play this week after the NRL judiciary found him not guilty of contrary conduct despite being sin-binned for striking Roosters prop Dylan Napa in the same match.
Leilua said the tackle on Kenny-Dowell was just a “silly mistake” and wasn’t sure how it happened.
The former Newcastle Knight had spent all pre-season working on his tackling technique, having been suspended twice last year for shoulder charges.
“I’ve worked hard on it again these last two weeks too, so I know it won’t happen this Monday,” he said.
The stammered start to his time at the club has “messed” with his head but the 24-year-old said it’s also helped him keep focused on the game.
Leilua shouldered some of the blame for the Raiders’ last-minute 24-20 loss to Gold Coast last weekend and feels he owes the team.
“Yeah I do,” he said.
“It’s hard to see the boys go down in a loss like that, when they’re leading in the first half. All you want to do is get out there and play in those moments.
“But I know we’ve prepared well this week for the Bulldogs.”
Leilua is hoping to lift against the likes of Moses Mbye and Josh Morris, and maybe even through his name into the State of Origin mix.
“It’ll be a good test for me,” he added.
He grew up just down the road from Belmore Oval, and will have family and friends watching on Monday.
“I don’t want to let them down.”