Competition - NRL

Round - Round 01

Teams – Raiders v Panthers

Date – 5th of March 2016

Venue – GIO Stadium, Canberra ACT

Photographer – Mark Nolan

Description –

Joey Leilua: Belmore is like a home to me

Joey Leilua returns from suspension at a critical time, with the Raiders heading to the Bulldogs spiritual home of Belmore ready for a dogfight.

Leilua was suspended for two weeks after a spear tackle in the Raiders round two win over the Roosters.

"I'm ready to go. It felt like forever, almost like another pre-season," Leilua said. 

It's disappointing the boys went down on the weekend. It felt like my fault since I wasn't out there with them."

It's hard to see the boys go down in a loss like that when they are leading. All you want to do is go out there and play with them."

Leilua worked hard over the off-season on his tackling technique, and has spent the past two weeks further refining his technique to reduce penalties and suspensions in the future.

“I’ve worked hard on it again these last two weeks, so I know it won’t happen this Monday,” Leilua said.

"It was just a silly mistake I did in defence at the time. It felt like he [Shaun Kenny-Dowell] went with it, and went horizontal."

Leilua's start to his career at the Raiders has so far been disrupted through suspensions, and he will be hoping to avoid further interruptions this season.

"It messes with your head a bit [having those interuptions]. Mentally you have to keep that away and keep focussing on football."

Those who watched the Raiders pre-season trial against the Knights will know how dangerous Leilua can be when he is firing, with many hoping he brings that form to Belmore on Monday night. 

"It will be a good challenge for myself. I can't wait to play against the Bulldogs."

It's exciting to have Blake Austin back for the game. He has that X factor."

Belmore is like a home to me. It's only down the road from my house. All my family and friends will be there to watch and support. I don't want to let them down."

Leilua replaces Brenko Lee in the Raiders starting line-up, and will go face-to-face with Bulldogs Origin rep Josh Morris on Monday night. 

CLICK HERE for the Raiders v Bulldogs match preview.