Sport Confidential: Wests Tigers weigh up next move with Leilua brothers
Sport Confidential: Wests Tigers weigh up next move with Leilua brothers

Wests Tigers’ tough call on Leilua brothers

Wests Tigers will begin negotiations to extend back-rower Luciano Leilua's contract but the future of his brother Joey is a little more unclear.

The younger Leilua is contracted at the Tigers until at least the end of next year but the club want to ensure the 24-year-old commits to the club long-term.

Luciano has been a revelation for the Tigers since joining the club on a three-year deal from St George Illawarra last year.

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Joey is coming to the end of his two-year guaranteed deal. The club has an option in their favour for 2022 but that is unlikely to be taken up given his high price tag.

The Tigers may be willing to keep Joey at the club for another season but it would be on a reduced rate.

Luciano and Joey Leilua have had mixed success at Wests Tigers.
Luciano and Joey Leilua have had mixed success at Wests Tigers.

The Tigers also have an option on centre James Roberts for another 12 months but are yet to take up that deal. Wests are also closing in on signing Penrith centre Brent Naden on a two-year deal from next season.

Utility Billy Walters, who is close to making his return from a knee injury, is expected to join the Broncos next year. The Tigers also have Michael Chee Kam, Jacob Liddle, Russell Packer and Thomas Mikaele off-contract.


Daniel Tupou is on track to become the Roosters all-time greatest tryscorer, with the winger close to extending his deal at the club for another two seasons.

Tupou heads into Friday's clash against the Storm fourth all-time on the Roosters top tryscorers tally with 103 - just one behind Bill Mullins.

Anthony Minichiello is the top of the pile with 139 from 302 games but given Tupou's strike rate of tries, he could eclipse the former Roosters fullback by the time he enters the final year of his deal in 2023.

By then Tupou will be 32. Tupou could also climb into the top five for most games played for the club if he stays injury free. With Angus Crichton also agreeing to a one-year extension, the Roosters are once again keeping the majority of their strong squad together.

Premiership winner Isaac Liu remains off-contract as do the Morris twins. Billy Smith and Drew Hutchinson are also off-contract.

The Roosters will also commence talks with boom half Sam Walker.



Anthony Minichiello - 139 tries from 302 games

Shaun Kenny-Dowall - 121 tries from 224 games

Bill Mullins - 104 tries from 190 games

Daniel Tupou - 103 tries from 180 games


Mitch Aubusson 306

Anthony Minichiello 302

Luke Ricketson 301

Jake Friend 264

Mitchell Pearce 236

Daniel Tupou 180


NRL PODCAST: Buzz, Mick and Mobbsy slam the Sharks' treatment of John Morris and the embarrassing Wests Tigers' performance, while defending Penrith's 'mug lairs'.


The cashed-up Cowboys have drawn a hit-list of targets which includes Melbourne premiership players Dale Finucane and Nicho Hynes.

North Queensland have already been linked with South Sydney's Adam Reynolds but they are also focused on trying to snatch Brisbane teen Tom Dearden from the Broncos' grasp.

The Cowboys are hellbent on turning their fortunes around quickly and are expected to be the most aggressive team to hit the player market. They are also closely monitoring Luke Brooks' future at the Tigers.

But for now the Cowboys have targeted Finucane and Hynes as they start to put together a plan to spend the money left in their salary cap following the retirement of Michael Morgan and the immediate departure of Josh McGuire.

Storm workhorse Dale Finucane is on the Cowboys’ wish list. Picture: Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos
Storm workhorse Dale Finucane is on the Cowboys’ wish list. Picture: Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Off-contract Canterbury winger Jayden Okunbor is also a target. Okunbor, who is recovering from a knee reconstruction, is among a host of Bulldogs off-contract at season's end.

Outside of trying to sign a top-notch half, the potential recruitment of Finucane would be key. The 29-year-old is yet to play this year and wants a four-year deal which the Storm may struggle to commit to. Finucane was named as co-captain of Melbourne this year alongside Jesse Bromwich.

Hynes' approach is interesting given the Cowboys have a very expensive fullback in Valentine Holmes.

The Cowboys have also secured the son of ex-Bulldog and Warriors skipper Steve Price. The departure of McGuire will allow 19-year-old Riley Price, also a forward, to be given a development contract at North Queensland for the rest of the season and bumped up into the top grade next year.


Boo Bailey’s take on the NRL this week.
Boo Bailey’s take on the NRL this week.


Josh McGuire will have to wait until captain's run to know if he will make his St George Illawarra debut on Sunday.

McGuire joined his teammates at training for the first time on Tuesday and is still slightly hampered by an infected elbow which left him in hospital last week and forced him out of making a final appearance for the Cowboys.

Prop Blake Lawrie is also battling a bad cork and won't run until the final session on Saturday. If Lawrie does not play, expect McGuire to be promoted into the squad.

Coach Anthony Griffin said McGuire is going to be a handy addition to his forward pack.

"He brings experience," Griffin said. "He is a performer that has been around for a long time. He has played a lot of rep footy and a lot of finals. He will give us that experience in the middle."

Griffin said he was not targeting specifically players who had a history with. McGuire joined the club having played under Griffin at the Broncos so too did Andrew McCullough.


"They were on the market," Griffin said. "We signed Jack Bird and Poasa Faamausili - I didn't know them. It's what's on the market."

The Dragons are being rewarded for being patient in the player market. Despite coming into the season with significant salary cap space they opted to sit and wait before landing the likes of McGuire, McCullough and Billy Burns.

"We always said that from day one because we just needed to make sure when you go to the market it's for the right reasons," Griffin said. "Not because you have spots to fill."

The Dragons have one spot on their roster but will wait for the outcome of Jack de Belin's court case - potentially this month - before deciding what to do with the final spot.

They will now discuss the futures of Matt Dufty and Corey Norman with the duo off-contract at season's end.


Wade Graham won't play against the Knights on Friday and the Sharks skipper could also miss the clash against Canterbury next week. Graham is dealing with two concussions in three weeks and while the back-rower is feeling OK, it is expected he will skip at least another game.


Manly are desperate fullback Tom Trbojevic stays on the field and the reasoning is simple - they have a much better record with their star player than without. Since 2019 this will be just his 20th game, having missed 32 matches. In the 19 games he has played in that period Manly have won 74 per cent of matches compared to a 28 per cent winning rate in the 32 games he has missed.

Tom Trbojevic returns for Manly this weekend. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Tom Trbojevic returns for Manly this weekend. Picture: Jonathan Ng


Adam Reynolds will play his 212th match for South Sydney against the Tigers on Saturday, moving into outright third for most matches played for the club ahead of Bob McCarthy and behind only Nathan Merritt (218) and John Sutton (336).


It is easy to forget that Will Hopoate is just 28. The Bulldogs centre made his debut in 2010 for the Sea Eagles and has now netted 165 top grade games.

Hopoate headlines a host of Bulldogs who are off-contract at season's end but remains hopeful of remaining at Belmore despite nothing formal eventuating with the club at the moment.

"I've been in this position a number of times now," Hopoate said. "All I can control is how I play. If I'm playing well then hopefully it'll work out with a contract.

"I still enjoy the game. I still consider living my dream coming and training and developing and playing footy. And so I still see it as a blessing and something that I still love. No (discussions) as yet but I enjoy it here. I've been here for a number of years. There's been a few hard years. I would love to be here when there is success."


Henson Park will be a treat on Saturday as the Jets pay tribute to club legend Tommy Raudonikis. A No.7 has been spray-painted on the hill in Newtown colours as part of the recognition of Raudonikis' service to the club. Ray Warren will MC the memorial planned for Raudonikis at the SCG on Monday. No ticket is required for the memorial with gates open at 10:30am.

Tom Raudonikis’s famous No.7 has been painted on the hill at Henson Park.
Tom Raudonikis’s famous No.7 has been painted on the hill at Henson Park.


The Sea Eagles were given 'latitude' to take a little longer than the 10 seconds required to make a captain's challenge because skipper Daly Cherry-Evans was involved in a play. The crucial call came late against the Warriors after the bunker intervened to rule the Warriors had played at a kick and reversed the on-field call. Manly scored from the following set.


The Titans have re-signed hooker Erin Clark for at least two more years. Clark joined the club last year as a train and trial member before being promoted into the top grade. He played 10 games last year and has featured in all the Titans matches this year.


The Bears are on the lookout for a new chief executive. North Sydney have advertised for the role on their website after David Perry resigned. The person 'oversee the next phase of growth with the responsibility of the operational performance and success of the club as its looks to leverage significant pathways and junior football programs'.


Tommy Turbo's hamstrings. The Manly superstar will play his first game of the season against the Titans on Saturday. He suffered 'that' injury slipping on his bathroom floor and will hope he can turn the fortunes of his side around.


Jarryd Hayne dominated the back page on this day 10 years ago. Having handed his side a 14-0 lead, Hayne let the Eels down badly when he headbutted Canterbury's Corey Payne. Hayne and Payne were sin-binned, so too Michael Ennis and Nathan Hindmarsh after the pair clashed. The Bulldogs won 34-14.


KIRK REYNOLDSON - 125 top grade games (63 Melbourne, 41 Newcastle, 21 St George Illawarra) from 2002-2008.

After a two-year stint at Parramatta's lower-grades, Kirk Reynoldson was struggling with life in the city and relocated to Mackay. It was there after one or two many beers he picked up a pen and started writing a letter.

"It was to Wayne Bennett," Reynoldson said. "(Broncos scout) Cyril Connell rang me up two weeks later and said 'it must've been a good letter' because they invited me into the Broncos system to play for Toowoomba. I was never game enough to ask Wayne what I wrote."

Ex-Bronco Terry Matterson enticed Reynoldson to switch to Melbourne's feeder club Norths Devils. Having bounced around and scrapped for money, Reynoldson made a promise to his then girlfriend now wife Kate that he would hang up his boots at the end of 2002.

That was until an opportunity with the Storm arose.

Kirk Reynoldson played 63 NRL games for the Storm. Picture: John Feder
Kirk Reynoldson played 63 NRL games for the Storm. Picture: John Feder

"They were down a few players and I thought I was just going to train with the squad," Reynoldson said. "I was giving it my all to the point Robbie Kearns told me to settle down. But I thought it was as close to first grade as I was ever going to get. I was leaving training one day and (coach) Mark Murray called out after me. I already had my speech prepared.

"He told me I was going to play first grade that week but I was thanking him for the opportunity and telling him I was going to go back to Brisbane and work hard."

Reynoldson again earned the ire of Kearns just prior to kick-off in his debut match, against the Warriors in Auckland. He also had an interesting run-in with Warriors prop Jerry Seu Seu.

"I remember walking up the stairs for the warm-up and I tripped over and took Kearnsy out too," Reynoldson said. "He was telling me to relax again.

"I spoke to my old boy before kick-off and he told me to run straight at Seu Seu. He goes it doesn't matter if he kills me, nothing worse can happen after that. I ran straight at him and I did a full flip in the contact. He licked my face and said 'welcome to first grade kid'."

Kirk Reynoldson’s stint at Newcastle was marred by injury.
Kirk Reynoldson’s stint at Newcastle was marred by injury.

Reynoldson, who helped launch the NRL's magic round this week, left the Storm at the end of 2004 to sign a four-year deal with Newcastle which was marred by injury and a highly-controversial contract clause. To activate the fourth year he needed to play 15 games. Brian Smith did not pick him after he played 14 in round 22.

"Michael Hagan was the Knights and Queensland coach when I signed," Reynoldson said. "Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I learnt a lot of lessons about people and contract negotiations. The performance trigger was about a serious injury. It was unfortunate it got down to the detail of the contract."

He has started a company with his wife called Eggy, which helps 'unscramble' person's life administration.




Originally published as Wests Tigers' tough call on Leilua brothers

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