Leilua in NSW mix for Origin II: Croker

Joey Leilua would probably be rated a higher chance of playing State of Origin for NSW if he was part of a bigger NRL club in Sydney, according to Canberra captain Jarrod Croker.

Leilua has been one of the NRL’s most-dangerous centres this season, scoring four tries in 11 games and making a massive 65 tackle breaks.

He leads the competition in offloads with 40 – 10 more than his nearest rivals, Cronulla’s Andrew Fifita and Melbourne’s Jesse Bromwich.

His form has helped get the best out of Jordan Rapana, too, with the winger leading the league’s line-break tally (16) and is the second-highest tryscorer (10).

With a foot injury ruling out Boyd Cordner for game two of Origin in Brisbane, Leilua could be considered a potential replacement on the bench given his ability to play in the centres and back row.

But he hasn’t been in the mix since being named 19th man for game one of the 2012 Origin series.

“I’m a bit surprised he hasn’t been mentioned as much,” Croker said on Wednesday.

“We tend to have players down here who don’t get as much mention as they probably should and as much as some of the bigger Sydney clubs do.

“I’m just happy for him to be in the green jersey every week.”

Leilua last month expressed his desire to play for the Blues, saying it was one of his goals for 2016 following last year’s mid-season move from Newcastle.

He shed about 8kg in the pre-season and tried to tidy up his oft-cited tackling technique in the hope of avoiding the wrath of the NRL’s match review committee.

“It’s a credit to BJ, the way he trained in the pre-season – it was probably his first full pre-season – and it’s starting to pay off now,” added Croker.

“He’s showing how good he can be.

“I’m just happy that he and Rapa are going well. They always enjoy each other’s company and they’re enjoying training, which is the main thing, and enjoying their footy.”

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