Raiders welcome Leilua’s touted NRL move

They still don’t know officially when – or even if – he’s coming, but Canberra players say Joey Leilua would be a quality addition to their NRL side.

Hours after being granted an immediate release by Newcastle, Leilua revealed in an Instagram video taken on Monday by Canterbury forward Frank Pritchard he was heading to the nation’s capital.

Raiders Sam Williams and Jack Wighton were unsure of the club’s plans to sign him before the June 30 deadline, claiming to know nothing more than what had appeared on social media.

“I don’t know what Sticky’s (coach Ricky Stuart) got planned, but he’s the only one that knows at the moment I think,” Wighton said.

“If he turns up (this week), I guess he’ll be part of the team.

“He’s a big powerhouse and he’s got great skills all around the park, so he’d be a great addition if he did come down.”

Williams said he Leilua’s aggressive ball-running and his ability to put “a few big hits on as well”.

“He’d be a quality player to have on our roster,” the halfback said.

Having left St George Illawarra to join France’s Catalans Dragons in 2014, Williams knows what it’s like to make a mid-season switch to a team in another town.

But he didn’t believe it would be an issue for Leilua.

“It’s a pretty professional environment these days, you’re always facing new players and different coaches and things like that,” he said.

“It’s not something I think will be too big an impact if he ended up coming down.”

His move will have an immediate impact on the Raiders’ line-up, with Sisa Waqa likely to return to the wing so Leilua could start at right centre.

Fullback Wighton predicted his arrival would put some players on notice.

“We’ve all been doing our job and he’s just going to be an extra bonus for the team if he turns up, putting pressure on other players and we’ll have other players putting pressure on him to perform also,” he said.

“We’ve got a great club culture and that’s the way we want things, is for everyone to have pressure put on them and perform at their best.

“It’s going to be a very competitive vibe about the team to earn spots.”

Waqa said any reshuffling was up to the coaching staff.

“It adds a bit of depth to our team moving forward, especially this time of the year,” he added.

“It’s going to be a good get for us.”

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