Knights release Leilua immediately

Newcastle have released centre Joey Leilua with immediate effect, opening the door for his speculated move to Canberra.

Leilua, who has played 54 NRL games with the Knights since joining from the Roosters in 2013, exercised a get-out clause in his contract on Sunday entitling him to leave Newcastle at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old was contracted with the club until the end of 2016, but when he re-signed last year had a clause inserted which stated he could seek a release should former coach Wayne Bennett leave the club.

On Monday the Knights announced Leilua would be released immediately and were considering “all options available” regarding recruitment before the June 30 transfer deadline.

The Raiders are widely speculated to be favourites to sign the young centre who would add much-needed depth to the side’s outside backs.

Former Queensland and Kangaroos representative David Shillington is reportedly being mooted as part of a trade deal between the two clubs.

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