Wests Tigers second-rower Luciano Leilua has returned to training 5kg lighter after an off-season competition with his brother.
With Joey in Canberra and Luciano in Sydney, the pair spoke on the phone every second day for encouragement as they trained and dieted their way into pre-season shape.
It resulted in a leaner and fitter Luciano fronting for training last week, who beat Joey by 3kg in the off-season weight-loss challenge.
“I came back about 110 (kilograms), normally I come back at about 115. I worked harder over the off-season,” Luciano said.
“Just through eating and training.
“No more Macca’s, no more pizzas.
“(Joey) went down to Canberra, we did a few sessions together.
“We had a chat on the phone every second day to see how we were going, we were competing as well so I won that by about three kilos, so I’m happy.”
After missing the finals again in 2020, the Tigers have upped the intensity to chase a top-eight finish for the first time since 2011.
The recruitment of James Tamou, Joe Ofahengaue and James Roberts has added depth to the squad.
However, there’s a leadership gap that needs to be filled from within after the club released Josh Reynolds and Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence retired.
In his fifth NRL pre-season, Luciano says it’s no longer good enough just to be there – he needs to be a leader for the younger players.
“In our review at the end of the season (coach Michael Maguire) said to come back and set standards, we have a lot of young boys as well so they look at us,” he said.
“For me, I want to be a leader as well.
“I want to do that and help put the club towards the finals.”