Michael Maguire has made a lot of great roster changes since taking over from the big over spender, Ivan Cleary. But one that doesn’t get talked about enough is the signing of Luciano Leilua from the St George Illawarra Dragons in late November of 2019.
Luch was one of our best in 2020 and we here at WestsLife are predicting him to not only be club player of the year, but up there in the conversation for the best back rowers in the NRL.
With the likes of Vilame Kikau, Felise Kafusi, Wade Graham, David Fifita, it’s a pretty stacked position and a big call. But a warning to other clubs, don’t sleep on the 24 year old Toa Samoa rep.
In terms of ranks within the Wests Tigers, the younger Leilua was second to Harry Grant in tackles made, yet only average one missed per game. He was third in offloads (four behind his brother Joey, two less than David Nofoaluma). But if the trial against Manly is any indication, Madge has given him a green light for offloads and second phase play is a massive weapon in attack, especially with the likes of his brother, Daine Laurie and Luke Brooks backing up.
He’s also a try scoring machine himself, scoring seven meat pies himself in 2020 which is tied first for second rowers.
Both of the Leilua brothers at the Wests Tigers apparently trained the house down over the summer, dropping several kilos each. A teammate of Joey posted a picture on social media of him shirtless and it was instantly visible that his bodyfat percentage has shrunk significantly. Unfortunately he was a late withdrawal from the trial game against Manly, so we’ve yet to see what it will do for his game this year.
As for Luciano Leilua, he tore Manly’s defensive line apart. He looked more agile, stronger and also craftier with the ball. His long curly hair waving side-to-side as he was in stride was a sight to behold.
Expect to see ‘Rick Flair’ among many NRL highlights videos this year. That son (brother?) of a gun is in for a HUGE season.
We guarantee it.
Listen to the 2021 season preview episode of WestsLife Podcast now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Podbean.