Leilua ‘itching’ for first game for Dragons since 2019

Joel Gould and Scott Bailey |

Dragons forward Luciano Leilua can’t wait to play his first game for the club in five years.
Dragons forward Luciano Leilua can’t wait to play his first game for the club in five years.

St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan says Luciano Leilua’s recent stint on the sidelines can be a silver lining as the blockbusting forward prepares for his first NRL game for the Dragons since 2019.

The 27-year-old was released last month by North Queensland to rejoin the joint-venture club on a three-year deal.

Leilua was stood down by the Cowboys after pleading guilty to low-range drink driving in February and subsequently suspended by the NRL for one match for not disclosing to his club or the governing body that he had been charged.

Now he has got himself ready to come off the bench against the Dolphins in Redcliffe on Sunday.

Dragons prop Blake Lawrie said Leilua had brought plenty of energy to the squad.

“He’s ready to go. You can tell he’s he’s loving it back here and he’s got a smile on his face,” Lawrie said.

“He’s a ball of energy in and around the change rooms and on the (training) field. It’s a huge in.”

Leilua, with 124 NRL games under his belt, went from the Dragons to Wests Tigers and then the Cowboys before returning to the Red V.

“He’s somebody you can lean on as well, in terms of the footy side of things. He’s more experienced and just older,” Lawrie said.

“And obviously he’s played quite a few NRL games since he’s gone away and come back.”

Flanagan said the wait to unleash Leilua had been worth it.

“It was good to get him involved in our systems and the way we do things,” he said.

“He will be ready and itching to go. He will come off the bench and will be on in the first half at some point.”

Luciano Leilua.
Luciano Leilua takes on the Eels’ line during last season’s campaign as a Cowboy. (Scott Radford-Chisholm/AAP PHOTOS)

Flanagan addressed reports that winger Zac Lomax was seeking to speak to Parramatta about an immediate release, after being unhappy not to play centre.

Lomax had one of his best games on the wing last week in the 28-4 win over Gold Coast.

“An unhappy player doesn’t perform like he did last week,” Flanagan said.

“We know he wants to play centre but he wants to play first grade for the Dragons as well.

“He is willing to co-operate and has been outstanding at training when  he’s here.”