Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua was slammed by voices across the NRL for a “dog shot” on Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards.
Leilua lost his temper after his brother, Luciano, was taken from the field following a high tackle from Apisai Koroisau midway through the second half on Saturday night. Leilua shoved Koroisau away as the Penrith hooker tried to apologise.
The former Raiders star later decked Edwards with a high swinging arm off the ball, sparking a scuffle and earning a sin-binning just before full-time. It was an old-fashioned ‘coat hanger’ which dropped Edwards to the ground and infuriated his teammates, who ran in to confront Leilua.
“I think Joey just had a brain snap there but what happens on the footy field sort of stays on the footy field, so no hard feelings or anything,” Edwards told Fox League, after his team won 19-12.
Others were far less gracious, calling for Leilua to cop a lengthy ban – or even have his contract torn up by Wests Tigers. Fox Sports commentator Warren Smith branded Leilua the worst signing in NRL history, while former Test player Luke Lewis called for him to cop a massive 16-week suspension.
“He should be sent off and get 16 weeks. That’s ridiculous,” Lewis said on ABC Grandstand.
ABC commentator Andrew Moore said: “A sin bin? That’s weak as water. That doesn’t mean anything with two minutes to go. The send off rule doesn’t exist in rugby league anymore. Get rid of it from the rule book, because the referees are too gutless to send anyone off.”
Reporter Michael Caryannis added: “That’s a disgraceful act. That’s a dog shot.”
Nine commentator Mathew Thompson said that the rogue act was standard fare from Leilua.
Former Tigers player Braith Anasta slammed Leilua’s dangerous hit.
“That’s just crap, he just can’t control his temper,” Anasta said on Fox Sports.
“Geez, he comes out with some dumb plays, BJ. That’s just so unnecessary.
“He’s going to go for that. He just does some stupid things and he doesn’t need to. It’s been his Achilles heel his whole career, Joey.”
Tigers coach Michael Maguire lamented Leilua’s lack of discipline.
“Look he’s aware of it, he’s been around long enough, he knows what he needs to do there and I’ll talk to Joey more about that,” Maguire said.
“You could use emotion [as an excuse] but he just gave away penalties, we just can’t do that.”