Widdop excited about Dragons recruits
It's a sign of Luciano Leilua's determination to win a place in the St George Illawarra Dragons pack that the 21-year-old back-rower has been going home in between training sessions to hang out his washing.
Leilua, who is among the young forwards vying to fill the void created by Joel Thompson's departure to Manly Sea Eagles, has moved to Wollongong to be close to the club's training base and is learning about the responsibilities of living away from home as well as the requirements of playing NRL.
After playing five NRL games in 2016, Leilua spent last season in the NSW Cup but he is aiming to cement a regular first-grade position this year after recently extending his contract with the club until the end of the 2020 season.
"I moved to Wollongong so I could focus more on my footy," Leilua told NRL.com. "Staying in Sydney was a bit tough for me, with the morning start and the drive.
"I just wasn't doing recovery properly but now I am down here in Wollongong, I am doing everything so it has been good."
However, the move has taken some adjustment for the Hurstville United junior, who is living away from home for the first time.
"It was tough at first, mum wasn't cooking so it was like I've got to cook my own food and I had to do the washing," he said. "I've got used to it now but the first few weeks were a struggle.
"My partner works so I have to go home in my break time and hang up the washing or put the washing on."
Despite not playing an NRL match last season, Dragons coaching staff consider the Australian Schoolboys and NSW Under 18s representative to be one of the best prospects and most skilful players at the club.
Leilua was the Dragons' under-20s player of the year in 2016 and last year won Illawarra's NSW Cup player of the year award but has now set his sights higher after re-signing with St George Illawarra late last year.
"I love playing for the club, it is my junior club and this is where I want to be so I just jumped straight at the new deal," he said. "It is good to get some security in my life.
"2016 was a good year, it was a good experience and now I know what is in front of me. 2017 was a bit up and down but now I just want to play first grade.
"Once I get into first grade I want to play consistent footy so I want to make sure I am in good shape to give myself the best opportunity to do that this season."