NRL 3 years ago

Knights take stand, release Leilua

  • Knights take stand, release Leilua

Disappointed Newcastle coach Rick Stone says the NRL club had to take a stand and release centre Joey Leilua immediately.

The 23-year-old was officially released by the Knights on Monday morning and is widely tipped to link with Canberra.

Leilua, who was originally contracted until the end of 2016, exercised a clause in his contract that allowed him to be released if former coach Wayne Bennett left the club.

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Leilua played 54 NRL games with the Knights since joining from the Roosters in 2013 and while he intended on staying until the end of the season, Stone said the club wanted to draw a line in the sand on players who weren't committed to the club.

"We haven't had a lot of trouble with Joey, but he's obviously been a little bit unsettled since he got here at the start of January," he said.

"I don't want anyone who doesn't want to play for us, so we've released him and we've moved on.

"Joey is going to go play where he has to play and we have to get on with our work.

"The bottom line for the leadership group and the management team is we want players who want to play for us.

"And at this point in time, Joey doesn't want to do that. So we've released him."

Stone also admitted that it was a tough decision because "it mightn't make our team any better", but said it was a compromise they needed to make.

"I suppose culturally we've made a decision and we've made a bit of a stand for what we think is acceptable at our place," he said.

"It's disappointing because I know how much everyone at this particular club has worked with Joey since his return from the Four Nations in January.

"At the end of the day there have been plenty of people who have gone out of their way to try to help him and make his job at the Knights a little bit easier.

"He's decided his footy is elsewhere. He's a bit of a different character, BJ and has decided that's best for him and we think it's best for everyone to part ways and move on."

Raiders officials declined to comment on any potential announcement, however Stone admitted the club were engaged in talks on a player swap before the June 30 deadline.

Canberra forwards David Shillington and Mark Nicholls are reportedly involved in the discussions on a swap deal.

"Nothing's been finalised as yet, but we've spoken about a couple of options," Stone said.

"Both clubs have struggled to agree with at this point in time.

"I would suggest if we can't do it within the next week or so, then it's not going to happen."

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