SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 29: Luciano Leilua of the Dragons in action during the round 25 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Pirtek Stadium on August 29, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

St George Illawarra have announced that Dragons back-rower Luciano Leilua has extended his stay with the club for a further two seasons.

Leilua, who was off-contract at the end of 2018, will now remain at the Dragons until at least the end of the 2020 Telstra Premiership season.

The Hurstville United local junior made his NRL debut in 2016 and in 2017 earned Illawarra RLFC’s Intrust Super Premiership Player of the Year award.

“Luciano is a player who has come through all of our junior ranks and we believe he’s one of the most skilful player in our Top 30. Luciano is very important to us with his size and athleticism,” Dragons Director of Rugby League Pathways Ian Millward said.

“2017 has been a real education year for Luciano. He was in a position where he had to learn the demands of playing outside the Under-20s and full-time training, and we really believe he’s grown as a person as a result.

“His training this pre-season has been outstanding. There’s been a complete physical and mental change about the way he goes about his business. We really believe 2018 is going to be a super year for Luciano.”

While the 21-year-old didn’t feature in first grade in 2017, he has four NRL games to his name and was excited to build on that next year.

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“I’m very excited to remain with my junior club. I’m really stoked to be here and it means the world to re-sign,” Leilua said.

“2017 was a rollercoaster year for me. I learnt a lot off the big boys while I continued learning my trade in the ISP. I wanted to return to pre-season training in good shape so I could give myself the best opportunity to play in the NRL in 2018.”

The re-signing of Leilua is another boost for Red V following the signings of Hunt, James Graham, Jeremy Latimore, Mitch Allgood and Darren Nicholls for the upcoming season.

It the follows the likes of Gareth Widdop, Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan, Tim Lafai, Kurt Mann, Jason Nightingale, Jai Field, Jacob Host, Blake Lawrie and Cameron McInnes who have extended their deals with the Dragons over the past 12 months.

St George Illawarra Dragons 2019 Player Movements

2019 Gains
Eddie Blacker (2019), Hayden Lomax (2019), Lachlan Maranta (2019), Steven Masters (2019), Jonus Pearson (Brisbane Broncos, 2020), Mikaele Ravalawa (Canberra Raiders, 2020), Jason Saab (2022), Korbin Sims (Brisbane Broncos, 2021), Lachlan Timm (Melbourne Storm, 2019)
2019 Losses
Leeson Ah Mau (New Zealand Warriors), Reuben Garrick (Manly Sea Eagles), Patrick Herbert (released), Nene Macdonald (North Queensland Cowboys), Kurt Mann (Newcastle Knights), Jason Nightingale (retired), Hame Sele (Penrith Panthers)
Re-Signed
Mitchell Allgood (2019), Matthew Dufty (2019), Josh Kerr (2019), Jeremy Latimore (2019), Luciano Leilua (2020), Zac Lomax (2020), Cameron McInnes (2021), Jordan Pereira (2020)
Off Contract 2019
Mitchell Allgood, Eddie Blacker, Matthew Dufty, Jai Field, Josh Kerr, Jeremy Latimore, Blake Lawrie, Hayden Lomax, Joe Lovodua, Lachlan Maranta, Steven Marsters, Steven Masters, Darren Nicholls, Reece Robson, Tristan Sailor, Lachlan Timm
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16 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah, I guess most Red V fans thought that Luce must have had some ‘training and fitness’ issues that kept him out of the NRL in 2017. Given the correct encouragement and direction this young fellow should be on a path to devastate oppositions in the next couple of years.

    • I couldn’t agree more DB, I’m sure you’re on the money. We have some great ballrunners like Sims, Frizell, Thompson, Vaughan. But with Graham and Leilua we’d also have a lot of creativity, something we lacked last year. Leilua is a wonderfully talented player, I suspect the only thing standing between him a long first grade career is himself (but maybe like big brother BJ/Joey or whatever he calls himself this week, he’s a slow developer). I bet he’d blossom phenomenally under someone like Bellamy.

  2. Luciano needs to look less like his namesake Luciano Pavarotti, and more like a footballer if he is ever going to reach the high notes of his RL career. Yes BIG George Rose suited his frame but had his frame been 10 Kg lighter he would have been a better footballer for it. The speed of the modern game is relentless and unforgiving for those carrying the extra pounds. Fitness is key and Luciano has all the skills to make it in the NRL. IF the Dragons can work on his fitness and harness his abilities the Dragons have a star in the making.

      • Yes, at the Dogs T-Rex was the St. Bernard of the kennel but with the temperament of a Newfoundland (gentle and docile). Now that he is at the Eels he may get the knew nickname of “Golden Dwarf”. The Golden Dwarf Moray’s are meant to be very docile and with the blue highlights on gold he will blend in well. Perfectly camouflaged no one will even see him! Bahahahahahahahahahaha

  3. DRAGONS 2018

    1.Dufty
    2.Nightingale
    3.Lafai
    4.Aitken
    5.Macdonald
    6.Widdop
    7.Hunt
    8.Graham
    9.Mcinnes
    10.Vaughan
    11.Thompson
    12.Frizell
    13.De Belin

    14.Ah Mau
    15.Allgood
    16.Mann
    17.Sims

    • I think that’s pretty much how it will roster up.
      Looking forward to seeing Allgood rip in after pre-season… he stated early on in the piece that Vaughn was inspirational to him.

      • I agree he is going to be quite an impact off the bench.I think in my opinion dragons will be a real threat next year.However to do so I do think lafai and nightingale although they are great on attack will have to toughen up on defense because alot of opposition from this previous season made alot of breaks and scored alot of tries on their side due to poor defense as well as lack of height mainly in nightingale.

        • yep – some really poor defensive reads from Aitkin as well, Its still hard to imagine that Nightingale is the leading try scorer @ 16 tries..
          My issue is the coach – Mary still needs to mature in terms of when the bad losses are on them.

        • Aitkin is a solid first grader though pedro. If you don’t want him at the Dragons I am sure Souths would be happy to take him off the Dragons hands along with Taane Milne.

        • “Mary still needs to mature”

          Mary doesn’t need polish he needs a wig. The cameras at the post game press conference are copping too much reflective glare as it is!

  4. I agree he is going to be quite an impact off the bench.I think in my opinion dragons will be a real threat next year.However to do so I do think lafai and nightingale although they are great on attack will have to toughen up on defense because alot of opposition from this previous season made alot of breaks and scored alot of tries on their side due to poor defense as well as lack of height mainly in nightingale.

  5. Actually surprised by this one. Thought for sure he’d go elsewhere after 2018. Real potential!! Consecutive player of the year awards in 20’s then ISP ….hopefully converts to first grade sooner than later. Now with Thompson gone…big opportunity for Luc ! Great off load and getting good service from good halves with Dufty running off his shoulder like in the 20’s….could be dangerous. Geez I wish the season was closer !! Lol

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