He has donned the blue of Samoa in international football, and now there is another blue jersey that Joey Leilua has set his sights on.
As May rolls around each year, so does the annual debate about who fills the seventeen spots on Laurie Daley’s New South Wales roster.
One name that cannot be ignored in 2016 is that of the barnstorming Raiders centre known as “BJ”.
The Samoan international is enjoying career-best form this season, forming a lethal combination on Canberra’s right-edge with Jordan Rapana.
Watching from the sidelines as Samoa overpowered Tonga and City roared to an upset victory over Country, a fire was lit under Leilua’s belly as he goes in search of his maiden Origin jersey.
“[I was] sad that I didn’t get to play, but I know the boys in the Samoan team did really well, and the City-Country team did really well too,” said Leilua.
“That was one of my goals this year, to get a Blues jersey. I’ve just got to play consistent, stay in this form, hopefully I get picked and play for that jersey.”
Since joining the Raiders last year, a refreshed Leilua has recaptured the form that earned him a City Origin jersey in 2012.
The Sydney product is refusing to buy into the hype, instead putting the ambitions of the team first as the Raiders look to cement their spot inside the top eight.
“It’s all about the team for me, I don’t care what happens individually, so it’s all the team first, and then whatever my goals are comes after.”
Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin believes that Leilua should “without a doubt” be on Laurie Daley’s radar given the form he has shown in 2016.
“You’ve only got to see what Joey’s been able to do in the first part of the season,” said Austin.
“If you’re eligible for Origin, it’s definitely something that’s on your radar. Obviously it’s a little bit closer for some than others, but all you can do is go out and perform well for the Raiders and that’s what Jordy [Rapana] and BJ [Leilua] have been doing regularly this year.”
Leilua will look to continue his stellar start to 2016 this Thursday night against the Dragons, before the NSW side is named in the coming weeks.