JOEY Leilua has put his hand up for a NSW State of Origin debut after spearheading his side’s 20-8 NRL win over the Warriors at GIO Stadium.
Leilua sent a powerful message on Saturday night to Blues coach Laurie Daley and his selectors, with a double by the Raiders’ centre proving the difference in front of 13,966 fans.
As well as tries either side of halftime, Leilua amassed 125m, seven tackle busts and two linebreaks as Ricky Stuart’s side recorded their third victory on the trot.
While there are lingering question marks over the 25-year-old wrecking ball’s defence, he received a ringing endorsement from Balmain and NSW great Steve Roach during the Fox Sports broadcast.
“He’s virtually unstoppable — I think he deserves his go … You pick guys who Queensland won’t want to play against and they won’t want to play this guy,” Roach said.
Leilua during the week was named as one of nine contenders for a Blues centre position along with the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Michael Jennings and Jack Bird. And while Leilua’s double proved the difference, it was his centre partner and skipper Jarrod Croker who turned the game just before halftime when he pulled off a contender for trysaver of the year on Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
The Warriors’ skipper looked certain to score when he cut up some tiring forwards in the middle of the field, however Croker managed to turn him over, with the visitors carrying an 8-6 lead into halftime.
And when Ken Maumalo made a mess of a spiralling Blake Austin bomb, Leilula steamrolled over for his second with 20 minutes on the clock to take a lead which they never gave up.
When Josh Hodgson burrowed over in the 66th to put the icing on the cake, the Raiders had cemented their reputation as real contenders.
Warriors second-rower Bodene Thompson is facing suspension after being put on report for seemingly elbowing Aidan Sezer in the head in a tackle.
SOURCE: newsnow sport