Season Review: Joey Leilua
Five Key Stats
Games | 25
Tries | 11
Offloads | 71
Linebreaks | 14
Tackle Busts | 130
Best Match of the Season
Round 8 | Raiders 60 defeated Wests Tigers 6
The Raiders Anzac weekend trouncing of the Wests Tigers was the night when Leipana (Joey Leilua + Jordan Rapana) announced themselves as one of the best combinations in the NRL. Leilua ran for 155 metres, scored two tries and offloaded six times as the Raiders terrorised the Tigers on the right edge all night long.
Joey Leilua blew away expectations in 2016, becoming one of the NRL's most dangerous and creative players.
The signs were good early in the year for Leilua, putting together his most consistent pre-season ever and shedding plenty of excess kilograms. The strict regime paid off in the trial game against the Knights, with Leilua running riot in the first half against his former club and looking lethal alongside Elliott Whitehead and Jordan Rapana on the Raiders right edge.
Old habits did emerge early in the season for Leilua, copping a two-game suspension for a dangerous tackle in Round Two. Thankfully for the Raiders, that would be the last time Leilua would miss a match all season.
The early season stumble was about the only time Leilua slowed down all season, as he hit top form and began to rip opposition defenses apart alongside Jordan Rapana. The combination between the two quickly became one of the NRL's most destructive, with the pair topping highlights reels every week.
In the run home to the finals Leilua played a huge part in the Raiders fortunes, always creating opportunities with offloads and linebreaks. Leilua would finish the season second in the competition for offloads and fourth in tackle busts.
Leilua left the field early in the Raider preliminary final loss to the Storm with a hamstring injury, which also kept him out of the Four Nations after being named in the train-on squad. His tremendous form was rewarded at the Dally M awards night, deservingly picking up the Centre of the Year award.
Another strong and consistent pre-season will have Leilua raring for another massive year in 2017, and the good news for Raiders fans is that he is signed on until the end of 2018.