Joey Leilua has won his boxing bout against Chris Heighington and now his new club Featherstone Rovers have laid down a challenge to their Championship rivals.
Rovers take on the York City Knights in their opening game of the 2022 season, with new signing Leilua expected to be in the mix following his shock move from the NRL.
The powerhouse Samoan centre’s fight against Heighington was initially set to be held on 10 December, but Leilua was struck down by COVID-19, as was sparring partner Josh Aloiai whose fight with Paul Gallen was called off.
29-year-old centre Leilua has been a key figure in the NRL for the past decade or so, but found himself edged out by the Wests Tigers as his contract ran down.
That led Leilua to launch a passionate rant at Wests boss Michael Maguire over the lack of communication in his final few weeks at the club.
But, the Samoan international – who has been capped 15 times by his country – did not have another offer from the prestigious Australian competition.
Instead, Leilua signed a one-year contract with Championship side Featherstone Rovers in a surprise career lifeline, but COVID-19 will not stop the former Sydney Roosters and Canberra Raiders heavyweight head into the boxing ring later in December, despite the enforcer revealing he was hospitalised with the virus.
And, following his comfortable victory over Heighington, Featherstone have looked towards the Knights in their first round game in the second tier.
— Featherstone Rovers (@FevRoversRLFC) December 22, 2021