Joey Leilua sprays Maguire on Tigers exit

Joey Leilua has taken a parting shot at coach Michael Maguire on his way out at the Wests Tigers.
Joey Leilua has taken a parting shot at coach Michael Maguire on his way out at the Wests Tigers.

Joey Leilua has taken a clip at Michael Maguire on the way out of Wests Tigers, accusing the coach of only blaming his players at the battling club.

In a dramatic day for the out-of-contract centre, Leilua backed himself to fight on and claimed he was still "one of the best centres in the game".

He also refuted claims he was offered a train-and-trial contract at the Tigers, after the club opted to take up an option to keep him at Concord in 2022.

But after being dropped to reserve grade midway when he was exposed defensively and not taken to the Queensland hub, he faces a tough path back to the NRL in need of a club to take a chance on him.

And that follows after taking a shot at Maguire, following on from when he did likewise to Ricky Stuart on his way out of Canberra in 2019.

"Btw (by the way) I wouldn't play for someone that blames the team all the time! And not once himself #Madge," Leilua posted on an Instagram story.

Maguire survived an end-of-season review into the club's performances and will start the first season of a two-year extension in 2022.

Leilua's brother Luciano remains at the Tigers, while there is a thought the 29-year-old could end up in rugby union in as far away as the United States.

But at this stage he is not willing to walk away from his NRL career entirely, backing his ability after also claiming he was the best centre in the game in 2020.

"Every athlete goes through a lack of (form), as I have," Leilua said.

"I am not lazy nor am I shifting the blame on anyone else. My non-activity for the majority of the year has been a blessing.

"It has allowed me to refocus, mentally and physically, putting myself around positive people.

"I still believe I am one of the best centres in the game.

I am focused, training the hardest I ever have, looking to make a statement and make my family, teammates and fans proud.

"I owe this sport a lot and believe I have a few more strong years in me as a player, as well as being involved in the development of the sport and the youth."

Australian Associated Press