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Mid-season signing Joseph Leilua made his Canberra Raiders debut on Saturday.

The first to admit that laziness got the better of him at times in his six games for the Raiders last season, Canberra centre Joey Leilua is out to make amends in 2016.

Following his mid-season move to the nation's capital from Newcastle last year, Leilua was suspended twice (both times for shoulder charges) which impacted the beginning of his time with the Raiders – a club he's now signed to until 2018.

It's why Leilua has made fixing his tackling technique a main concern of his over the pre-season, after spending three of the final five rounds last year on the sideline for easily avoidable tackles on the Tigers' Kyle Lovett and Gold Coast's David Mead.

"That was one of my priorities this pre-season, was getting my tackling technique right. There are different styles of tackling and I've always known how to tackle but it came down to a bit of laziness when it comes down to it," Leilua told

"I've been focusing on repeat efforts during training and getting that technique right. I just have to be mindful of it because sometimes it just happens too. The more I practice tackling under fatigue the more it won't happen I suppose."

Leilua emerged from what he described as one of the toughest pre-seasons of his career fitter than ever after dropping eight kilos. 

"It feels like I haven't eaten for three weeks with all the skin folds I've had to go through," he laughed.

On top of that, Leilua has noticed a shift of mentality within the squad over the summer months.

"Between the boys everyone is a lot more competitive than previously due to there being so much depth within the squad. Everyone is looking out for one another too, compared to last year where they were just focused on their own jobs," he said.

"We've become a lot tighter this year as a group. Ricky [Stuart] has been good too, he's told me to stick with what I've been doing. He's said if we're still alive in the finals, that we'll remember these hard times and going to be think 'I'm glad I did this [pre-season]'.

"It's the first time I've done a pre-season in a while but I love it here in Canberra. I'm mentally tougher now for it. In previous years I've had either rep footy or I've come back later because I've made the finals the year prior."

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