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Leilua a step closer to Tigers switch after Maguire meeting

Wests Tigers are edging closer to landing their long-desired backline strike power after a positive meeting with Canberra’s Joey Leilua on Monday.

Leilua met with coach Michael Maguire and is understood to be keen on an immediate move to the Tigers should a reasonable multi-year offer be tabled.

The 28-year-old blockbusting centre was given permission by the Raiders to explore his options late last year with a season to run on his contract.

The Raiders have already paid two months of Leilua’s 2020 wage, believed to be worth around $600,000.

The Tigers have been cashed up and actively in the market for outside backs this pre-season, tabling new Rabbitohs recruit Latrell Mitchell a lucrative multimillion-dollar offer before later withdrawing it when negotiations stalled.

Leilua’s younger brother Luciano is the Tigers’ highest profile recruit to date this off-season, arriving from St George Illawarra as a likely back-row replacement for Ryan Matterson.

If he were to stay in the national capital, Leilua would face a battle to retain his starting spot in Canberra given Curtis Scott’s arrival from Melbourne.

On his day Leilua is one of the game’s most destructive centres, with 89 tries in a 204-game career that has also courted on-field controversy at times. 

Mitchell’s signing at South Sydney in turn led to Adam Doueihi being told he was able to explore his options elsewhere despite having two years remaining on his Rabbitohs deal.

Doueihi, a Balmain junior, has been linked to a return with the club and was handed his NRL debut by Maguire when both were at Redfern.

The Rabbitohs have told Doueihi he would not be forced out of the club should he choose to stay and fight for a starting spot in a back line overflowing with talented options.