Confidence still sky-high for Leilua

Canberra Raiders centre Joey Leilua insists his confidence levels are still high despite a lean patch of form in the last month of the NRL Telstra Premiership.

Three straight losses for the Green Machine have coincided with Leilua's involvement in recent weeks being down compared to his barnstorming start to the season on the back of a successful year in 2016.

Leilua averaged 129 metres per game last season from 13 runs while he was second best in the competition for offloads (71) behind Panthers five-eighth Bryce Cartwright. 

In the opening 10 rounds of 2017, the 25-year-old has managed an average of 104 metres from 11 carries and just the eight offloads for the season.

"I've always got confidence," Leilua said.

"[My form] is not going too well, I've got to pick up where I left off earlier in the season and get back to playing confident and enjoy my footy again."

 

 
The Samoan international's combination with Jordan Rapana on the Raiders' right edge has been heavily marked in the past fortnight, particularly by the bottom-placed Knights on Sunday.

Leilua had only eight carries against his former club, while Rapana was restricted to just 59 metres with Newcastle's tactics off kicking into touch limiting the Kiwi international's effectiveness on the wing.

"[The opposition] are targeting us for sure and you can see that in every game lately as they're getting out of marker and tackling us," he said.

"We just need to find a way to get more involved and if teams are going to [keep kicking the ball out] then it's better for us and gives our forwards a rest.

"It shows that we're good players but the whole team are making it hard for us outside backs."

‌Leilua believes the "Leipana" combination will fire again when Raiders halves pairing Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer offer more input on the paddock.

"There are areas in our game we need to fix as a whole team from 1-17," he said.

"Our form at the moment is not too good and our halves just need to be more vocal on the field.

"When they do that we'll roll off that."

Canberra will be boosted by the return of Australian international Josh Papalii from a club-imposed suspension, while Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker will play his 200th Telstra Premiership game in the clash with the Parramatta Eels on Saturday afternoon.

"It will be a great moment for his friends, family and everyone who's been apart of his career," Leilua said of Croker.

"It's a great milestone and for him do it all here is a great thing for the club.

"[Papalii] was a big loss on the weekend but having him back will give a big impact on that left side again."

Meanwhile, Ricky Stuart has named Raiders lock-forward Luke Bateman on the bench after the Souths Logan junior left the field in the opening five minutes with concussion against the Knights.