Leilua unfazed by pass of the year
In-form Raiders centre Joey Leilua has shrugged off his miracle pass to set up an amazing Jordan Rapana try against Wests Tigers on Sunday as something he expected would come off.
Swooping on a loose ball from opposite number (and Samoa teammate) Tim Simona in the 18th minute, Leilua looked wrapped up by the defence before flinging a must-see-to-believe no-look flick pass around the back of the defender – straight onto the chest of a stunned Rapana who raced away to score.
It has fair claims on being the pass of the year and is certainly one for the highlight reels but quizzed about the move afterwards by NRL.com, Leilua seemed nonplussed.
"It happened so quick, I knew Rapa was on the wing and I just knew I had to get the ball to him and I knew that flick pass would work so I just used it," Leilua smiled.
"I've never seen someone do it before but you kind of practice that at training," he added.
"You just try and flick those passes to each other, not even in a drill, you're just mucking around and to happen on the field, in the moment I felt it was going to work."
Leilua and Rapana have formed a devastating combination on Canberra's right edge this season, along with right-side back-rower Elliott Whitehead and right edge playmaker Blake Austin, and Leilua said his combination with Rapana was such that he knew the winger would mark the pass regardless of where he threw it.
"I knew he was going to get there. Even if I threw it to his legs or above him I knew he's going to catch it because I can trust him that much he can make those plays and wherever I give it to him he'll catch up."
Halfback Aidan Sezer praised the impact the team's right side had made through the year.
"I don't think Joey surprises anyone, even from the outside everyone knows the talent he has and it's good to see him showcase that on a consistent basis," Sezer said.
"For Joey it's just getting the little things right in his game and he's done that. He's come on in leaps and bounds this year and it's a credit to the coaching staff the way they've got the boys performing."
Leilua had an odd analogy for the way that right edge has come together in 2016 under new the influence of new recruit Whitehead along with Austin and more recently Austin's replacement Sam Williams.
"'Smell' [Whitehead] has been a big part of it, he's been like the captain. We've got a ship, he's the captain, Austo was the anchor now Sammy's the anchor. I was a sailor and Rapa was the other sailor," Leilua laughed.
"If everyone's doing their job you can't stop the ship really."
Game on. Data off.
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