With his future up in the air at the end of the season and Canberra hosting their first ever preliminary final on Friday, Joey Leilua could be forgiven for overthinking a few things.
But Leilua is just happy playing first grade footy after spending four days as a teenager crying his eyes out during work experience.
He only lasted four days in the kitchen of his local golf course as a 16-year-old as the experience made him stay on track to become a NRL player.
“I’ve only had two jobs in my life. That’s playing NRL and cooking, working in hospitality,” Leilua told NRL.com before his uncertain future with the Raiders was revealed last week.
“It was at the local RSL down near Kirawee, the Kareela golf course I think.”
“I was 16 and I’d be there in that kitchen crying every single day that week from onions. They killed me. I would’ve cut up at least 200 a day.”
“My eyes would be watering the entire time, all I can remember from it is cutting onions to be honest.”
“I’d get to fry something here and there but otherwise, just prepping onions. By the fourth day we just said we’re not coming back and I didn’t go back on the last day.”
So Leilua chose footy and has had quiet a career to date but one thing remains elusive and that is a NRL premiership.
Leilua’s 2019 season has been full of twists and turns as he was told a neck injury could have left him paralysed, only for the tough nut to return to the field three months later.
His latest injury was unique as a fragment from a stray firework went into his eye when he was running out onto the field against the Melbourne Storm two weeks ago.
He was recovered fully from the eye injury and is a certainty for the first preliminary final.
Leilua will run out for the Raiders in front of a sold out GIO Stadium on Friday night with a place in the Grand Final up for grabs.
But this time, there’ll be no fireworks or onions in sight.