His NRL club coach and captain believe he should have been in from the start, but Canberra’s Joey Leilua says State of Origin is the last thing on his mind.
The in-form centre played a leading role in the Raiders’ 33-20 victory over Gold Coast at Robina on Sunday.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says calls for Leilua to be included in NSW’s side for next month’s Origin III in Sydney is two games too late – an attitude his captain Jason Croker agrees with.
But the man himself says the clamour for him to be handed a Blues jersey by Laurie Daley is just noise and he’s refusing to buy into it.
“I don’t pay any attention to it, to be honest,” Leilua told AAP.
“You hear a lot of people saying ‘you should be playing this, you should be playing that’, but it’s not up to me. It’s up to the coach and the selectors that have to pick the team.
“If they don’t want me in there, then I won’t be in there. I’ve just got to keep playing good footy for this team and see where I can go.”
Canberra’s sole current Origin representative, Josh Papalii, backed up his eye-catching display for the Maroons last Wednesday with an inspirational effort against the Titans.
Papalii put in an 80-minute effort, leading the charge for the Raiders’ pack with 113 running metres.
It’s the form and leadership that Leilua says shows others at the Raiders the rewards that come with hard work.
“Whatever he’s done in pre-season is paying off for him right now,” Leilua said.
“He’s earned it. Earned the right to play like this.
“Good on him and I’m so happy for him because he brings it for our team, brings it for the Raiders and Ricky said it, rep players win you top footy games.”