You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Newcastle Knights Coach Rick Stone addressed the media following the Club’s announcement centre Joey Leilua had departed the Club.

After requesting a release from his contract midway through last month, both parties agreed to an immediate release on Monday.

“We haven’t had a lot of trouble with Joey, but he’s obviously been a little bit unsettled since he got here at the start of January,” Stone said on Monday morning. 

“The bottom line I suppose is he doesn’t want to play for us anymore. 

“I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want to play for us, so we’ve released him and we’ve moved on.

“Joey is going to go play where has to play and we have to get on with our work. 

"I suppose culturally we’ve made a decision and we’ve made a bit of a stand for what we think is expectable at our place.

“I know it’s hard one to pull the trigger on as possibly it mightn’t make our team any better.

“It’s one we think for the long run will be better for our Club.” 

Stone explained discussions with Leilua had been ongoing since the agreement was made on an early contract release.

“I have an open relationship with Joey and we’ve been talking since the whole event,” he said.

“It’s disappointing because I know everyone at this particular Club has worked with Joey since his return from the Four Nations in January. 

“At the end of the day there have been plenty of people who have gone out of their way to try to help him and make his job at the Knights a little bit easier.

“He’s decided his footy is elsewhere…and has decided that’s best for him and we think it’s best for everyone to part ways and move on." 

Leilua spoke to the playing group on Monday morning before he parted ways with the Club. 

“It’s decent of Joey to lob up in person…to his credit he’s showed up today and spoke to the boys in person,” Stone said.  

Meanwhile, Stone and the Knights' football department are exploring recruitment options before the June 30 mid-season player transfer deadline. 

“We will have a look at our options of where we are going to go there…and are working through a number of possibilities,” he said. 

“There are some pros and cons with all those particular deals mid-year. 

“Myself, Matt Gidley and Michael Hagan have been working through some scenarios there. 

“Some with Canberra and some with other Clubs, trying to come up with the right scenario to fit the Club.

“The one thing we’ve all agreed on is not to panic and buy someone that we don’t think will make our team any better right now and will end up with for a longer term.

“That’s a hard one for everyone to understand. 

“There are still some possibilities, today onwards."      

Stone also believes the return of players from injury will add additional depth in the short-term.

“Hopefully we can get Tyrone (Roberts) back and Gidley can go back and play fullback and Gags (Gagai) can go back in the centres,” he said. 

The Knights returned to the training track on Monday following the bye weekend and will take on the Cronulla Sharks this Sunday at Hunter Stadium.