Photo: Getty Images
Joey Leilua's lethal combination with Jordan Rapana is set to terrorise NRL defences for at least two more seasons after the damaging centre re-signed with Canberra until the end of 2020.
Leilua was not off-contract until next year, but decided to commit early to the Raiders with a two-year extension, while Rapana signed until the end of 2019 earlier in the season.
Their right-edge partnership - dubbed Leipana - is Canberra's most potent attacking weapon, with 20 tries between them this season.
"Rapa and me are going to be sticking around for another couple of years and it's exciting for the fans and ourselves that there's a lot of potential in the team," Leilua said.
"We can make something happen."
Canberra have been able to escape the chaos around the transfer market this season, locking in some of their most important players including fullback Jack Wighton who re-signed until 2020 last month.
Leilua's signature comes as a boost for the ninth-placed Raiders ahead of a crucial test against Penrith, who sit one spot below them on the ladder, in Bathurst on Saturday.
"I know we're not going too good on the table at the moment, but as a team we've got a lot of potential," Leilua said.
Canberra and Penrith have failed to live up to expectations this season after being touted as premiership contenders earlier in the year.
While the Raiders suffered another agonising defeat against Manly in golden point on Sunday, the Panthers looked back to their best thrashing Canterbury 38-0.
"They'll be rallying up to play a big game again," Leilua said.
Leilua has played 44 of his 157 NRL matches with Canberra after joining from Newcastle late in the 2015 season.
If he sees out the new deal, his stay with the Raiders will be the longest stint at one club during his career which started in 2010 with the Sydney Roosters.
The 25-year-old said he was confident his best football was ahead of him.
"There's a lot more improvement. You can always get better and that's the thing with our team," Leilua said.
Raiders Official Statement
The Canberra Raiders have secured Joey Leilua for a further two seasons, with the hulking centre agreeing to a new deal which will see him at the club until the end of the 2020 season.
Leilua has been amongst the Raiders top performers since his arrival at the club mid-season in 2015, with his combination with Jordan Rapana on the Raiders right edge shaping one of the most dangerous attacking duos in the NRL.
The new deal continues the Raiders push to secure the bulk of their squad long-term and Raiders CEO Don Furner said it was great to add Leilua to the list of players re-signing with the club.
“Joey has taken his game to another level since joining the club and we’re excited about what he can bring to the team over the next couple of seasons,” Furner said. “We’re working on securing a squad which will represent the club long-term and Joey is a very important part of that.”
Joey Leilua "Beast Mode"
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