Former Wests Tigers centre Joseph Leilua has opened up on his move to England, revealing he didn't know the Featherstone Rovers were a second-tier club.

Leilua had a messy exit from the Tigers at the end of the year, calling out the club and head coach Michael Maguire.

With no other Australian club willing to take a punt on the centre, whose time at the Tigers will go down as an abject failure, he was forced to explore his options overseas.

The Samoan international had moved to the Tigers ahead of 2020, but played just 21 games in his two season, eventually missing the bubble to Queensland at the back end of the 2021 season.

Leilua previously played for the Sydney Roosters, Newcastle Knights and Canberra Raiders, making for a total of 225 NRL matches.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Leilua said he was looking for Super League clubs at first before receiving a call from Featherstone, who he didn't know were second division.

He also revealed he believes his name was touted as a "bad person" in England and that one person was responsible for that assumption.

“At first, I was trying to come over to different clubs and they wanted me," he said.

"They came back to my manager and my manager said to me that someone had been putting in their ear that I’m a bad person, which I already knew who it was and it’s obviously one person. It was difficult to come over.

“I got a phone call from Brian and Martin to come over here and play – I didn’t know they were second division to be honest. The way they spoke to me, I thought they were first division.

"They spoke to me and convinced me to come over and my wife said to come over and start fresh and enjoy it here. It will be good for the kids, it’s somewhere different.

“It was disappointing that my name was getting tossed around and that I was that type of person that was bad for the club. At the same time, I knew the person I was and I wasn’t going to change.

"Featherstone came along and said they don’t care about what has happened, and that’s why I respect him so much. I can’t wait to repay them the favour they showed me."


  1. “At the same time, I knew the person I was and I wasn’t going to change.” Yep, the type of person who doesn’t bother to google a perspective employer and yet blames everyone else. That’s the person you are and that’s why you are playing 2nd division English league.

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