Wayward star shocks West Tigers with walkout

Joey Leilua has walked out on Wests Tigers to attend to a family issue, just before a must-win game.

The club confirmed on Thursday that Leilua had taken leave after breaking the NRL biosecurity bubble to join his extended family in Canberra.

The specific reasons for Leilua’s exit are unclear, as is his status for the rest of the season. He will need to quarantine for two weeks after breaching NRL protocols.

“Having voluntarily left the club’s bubble, Leilua will be placed in a temporary COVID hold as per NRL guidelines. Wests Tigers have informed the Project Apollo Group and will await further advice after consideration of all circumstances,” Wests Tigers’ statement said.

Joey Leilua is confronted by Panthers players after decking Dylan Edwards. (Getty)

Leilua only returned to the Wests Tigers side last weekend in a loss to Newcastle, having served a four-week suspension for his brutal ‘coathanger’ hit on Penrith’s Dylan Edwards.

He was named at centre to face the Bulldogs on Sunday but will not be available.

Wests Tigers are running 10th, four points adrift of the top eight and in danger of extending a finals drought stretching back to their last appearance in 2011. Michael Maguire’s side next face the Roosters (4th) and Panthers (1st), arguably the NRL’s best two sides, and may again have to do so without Leilua.

Leilua is a controversial NRL figure, having regularly produced lapses in behaviour and form during his career despite his exceptional talent.

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