Attitude, not ability, holding back Leilua from Origin selection

Mr X Roar Guru

By Mr X, Mr X is a Roar Guru

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31 Have your say

    Tonight, the New South Wales Blues will celebrate their first Origin series victory since 2014.

    Despite his enormous potential, Canberra Raiders centre Joey Leilua won’t be there. And by his actions on Saturday night, it looks like he may never get there.

    Leilua epitomises the Raiders’ season in 2018. There is no doubt that he has the talent to represent his state.

    He has seven tries, 49 tackle-busts and 31 offloads to his name this year and is one of the most damaging ball-runners in the competition.

    However, ability is simply what you are capable of doing. Attitude determines how well you do it.

    And it is Leilua’s attitude that is holding him back from making his State of Origin debut.

    Leilua’s actions on Saturday night have been well-documented. Having scored the match-winning try against the Bulldogs in the 79th minute, the Samoan international’s first instinct was to taunt Brett and Josh Morris, who he had just beaten on his way to the try line.

    This is a pair of brothers who have combined to play 53 games for Australia and New South Wales during their accomplished careers.

    Instead of celebrating with his teammates, Leilua instead mocked the Canterbury duo.

    The argument defending Leilua’s actions has been that the pair sledged him when they took him over the sideline during the game. Even if this is true, the bigger man lets his actions do the talking.

    In this case, the try in itself, which subjected the Bulldogs to a disappointing defeat, would have been the perfect response from Leilua.

    The gobful that he gave the Morris twins after spoke volumes of the attitude problem that is holding him back from a debut in the Origin arena.

    With Brad Fittler’s selection as the head coach of the Blues came the dawn of a new team culture south of the border.

    Fittler said it himself to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Webster in the lead-up to Game 1 of the series, “Footy is all about character. It’s nothing to do with skill — it’s all character. The theme has always been about putting your team first and in our game that’s a test of character.”

    Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson and Andrew Fifita were the first victims of the new criteria.

    There has been a noticeable difference in the way that the Blues have played this year. In 2018 they have played for each other.

    Angus Crichton

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    Heartwrenching stuff, I know.

    But just look at the way that they banded together to defend their 18-14 lead against Queensland in Game 2 after James Roberts was binned in the final fifteen minutes of the match.

    It is a culture that Leilua simply does not fit into at the moment.

    Only in Round 17 last year, the Canberra centre was sin-binned late in the Raiders’ 31-18 loss to the Cowboys for recklessly striking Kyle Feldt with his elbow.

    While it did not cost his team given that the result was already decided, Leilua’s ill-discipline and attitude problems will continue to hold him back if he cannot change.

    He only has to look at the current NSW Blues squad to recognise that he is more than capable of transforming himself as a player.

    One of the most inspiring stories of the year came from the’s chief reporter, Michael Chammas, who revealed Roberts’ battle with drugs, alcohol and mental illness – a battle that he was able to overcome.

    Only yesterday, Chammas also told Melbourne flyer Josh Addo-Carr’s journey, including his troubled path to first grade which saw him punted from the South Sydney SG Ball side after ending up in jail.

    Both players were not saints. They had their demons.

    Yet, both of their stories are a testament to their determination and courage to get to where they are now.

    They have earned respect.

    Reading stories of triumph about players like Roberts and Addo-Carr never gets tiring.

    Constantly reading about players like Leilua being released from the Knights and Roosters for disciplinary reasons does.

    Leilua is one of the most talented centres in the competition. There is no doubt about that.

    However, ability is not holding him back, his attitude is.

    Once he realises this and takes action he too can be one of the feel-good stories that we prefer to see.

    Getting hassled by a parent or partner about spending too much time playing video games? Now, you can tell them the story of how some ordinary gamers scored $225k for just seven weeks of work.

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    The Crowd Says (31)

    • July 11th 2018 @ 4:53am
      Ovait said | July 11th 2018 @ 4:53am | ! Report

      So what a player let his passion and emotions get the better of him. Will Chambers does it just about every game. Dylan Walker is another. Or was it that someone did it to the nice Morris boys.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 7:34am
        peeko said | July 11th 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

        his emotions get the better of him and it contributes to his inconsistency which holds him back. i would not have him in my team

        • Roar Guru

          July 11th 2018 @ 9:01am
          Mr X said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          Peeko said it perfectly. It wasn’t a major concern but it was one of many small little things that Leilua does. Yes, Dylan Walker does let his emotions get the better of him often and he sat on the sidelines with a fractured eye socket because of it.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 10:37am
        Old School said | July 11th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        Yeah I don’t get why Sterlo and Gus Gould both got stuck into him, why this incident and why now?? My first thought was this is exactly what I see from Latrell Mitchell – yet we don’t hear a peep about it. As others pointed out Dylan Walker is another great example.

        I’ll be watching origin closely tonight for when players start giving each other a gobfull and what the commentators have to say about it – my bet – they’ll say absolutely nothing.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 10:55am
        Albo said | July 11th 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        There is nothing wrong with passion, emotion and aggression until it starts to cost your team results. And this has always been the problem with Leilua. His talent is so often overshadowed by his dumb performances that cost the Raiders points and results. That’s why he will never be selected to represent NSW, unless this long term dumb trait is removed from his game. Last week he was completely outplayed by the Morris twins for most of the game, and he was probably sledged along the way by them, only to grab a win with the late try hardly deserving of his carry on to the Morris boys. He should have skulked away thanking his lucky stars that he made up for his awful previous 79 minutes of play.

        • Roar Guru

          July 11th 2018 @ 10:59am
          Mr X said | July 11th 2018 @ 10:59am | ! Report

          As Albo said, Leilua has had a history of this sort of behaviour and it has often come at the detriment of his team as a whole. Mitchell may have the odd sledge at the other team, yet rarely does it lead to anything.

    • July 11th 2018 @ 7:32am
      Robert F said | July 11th 2018 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      And you will find that Chambers and Walker will never amount to much more than what they are. All you have to do is look at game 1 origin this year to see Chambers niggling away like a pest at Mitchell trying to unsettle him and what happened? Probably played the worst game of his origin career that night. This is a TEAM game. not an individual game so the sooner they figure it out and just play the game then the sky is the limits cause honestly if you haven’t represented your state, country or won a premiership then quite honestly you are not really remembered for your ability. Chambers when he just plays the game is one of the best centres going hence why origin calibre. Just play the bloody game……

      Just a couple years ago most of the legends of the game were saying unless if JT could win a competition then he would never really be seen as an immortal regardless of the star player he is. That in itself speaks volumes to me.

      Even if the Morris boys sledged him earlier in the game they didn’t carry on like thugs and you can’t tell me that Joey would not have said some words himself during the game so this is just a pathetic excuse for rubbish behaviour for a player who has admitted himself that he is hard to coach and tends to go his own way unless he respects the coach. He had a real ordinary game then comes up with one play where it’s basically over the try line where it’s almost like 50/50 in those situations to getting the ball down, scores the try then acts like he did it all……. GTFOH.

      If it wasn’t for Austin the Raiders would not have won so he should have been turning around and thanking his team mate for keeping their slim season hopes alive.

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2018 @ 9:04am
        Mr X said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        You clearly have some pretty passionate thoughts about this Rob! But yep pretty much – Origin is a team game and these sort of plays are hindering Leilua’s chances of being selected. It speaks to his ill-discipline which has led to him being binned or conceding poor tries in the past, which are at the detriment of the team. He is a fantastically talented player though but he just needs to fix up his attitude. He isn’t the only player that needs to do so though obviously.

      • July 11th 2018 @ 11:01am
        Albo said | July 11th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        100 % Robert !
        Whilst ever NSW maintains its “no dickhead ” selection policy, BJ can forget about any representative career.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 11th 2018 @ 7:43am
      souvalis said | July 11th 2018 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      BJ wasn’t released by the Knights for disciplinary reasons.Coach at the time Rick Stone publicly stated he wanted to keep him but the player had a get out clause and wanted to leave…alas,his rep window for anyone other than Samoa has probably been slammed shut on him now..

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2018 @ 9:08am
        Mr X said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        I read otherwise regarding his attitude and discipline at training playing a role but I understand that Stone may have indicated otherwise.

    • July 11th 2018 @ 8:05am
      Forty Twenty said | July 11th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      Give Croker this blokes body and you’ve got a SOO player.

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2018 @ 9:05am
        Mr X said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        That’s one way of looking at it 420. Best of both worlds there.

    • July 11th 2018 @ 8:08am
      Paul said | July 11th 2018 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      Leilua’s other problem is a simple one. NSW are spoilt for choice when it comes to centres. Aiken who is still playing the most consistently good football, can’t get a look into the side, so Leilua not only has to be good, he has to be better than the rest by a country mile to be considered next year – and get rid of the attitude.

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2018 @ 9:06am
        Mr X said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        100% Paul. He may have missed his chance given the emergence of Aitken, Roberts, Mitchell etc.

    • Roar Guru

      July 11th 2018 @ 8:26am
      The Barry said | July 11th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      It wasn’t a good look from BJ but it wasn’t the end of the world and he’s come out of it looking like a bit of a goose.

      It’s a shame because it was a great run and great and should be celebrated for that but he’s overshadowed his own great moment by acting like a peanut.

      I’m sure the Morris boys will have the last laugh. BJ got one over them in one game. They’ve achieved far more in their careers than he has or will.

      Read last night that Josh has signed with the Sharks next year. Sad to see him go – great player and clubman but a victim of the dark days at Belmore.

      Thanks for everything and good luck for the rest of your career.

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2018 @ 9:00am
        Mr X said | July 11th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        Agree TB. It wasn’t that big a deal but given BJ’s track record of ill-discipline it only confirmed public opinion about him. Scoring the match-winning try was enough of a jab at the Morris brothers, they would have been disappointed letting that try in, so to take it further wasn’t needed.

        Definitely sad about J. Morris but he should be a reliable and consistent performer for Cronulla.

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