Leutele gets the shock of his life!
Centre’s well-deserved elevation to starting side hits him for six
RICKY LEUTELE HAS revealed that he found out about his promotion to the Sharks’ starting line-up for the qualifying final against Canberra not from his coach, not from a team-mate, but from Twitter.
Gerard Beale was the starting centre for 10 of Cronulla’s recordbreaking 15 successive wins, but Leutele has cemented the left-edge spot at the summit of the season – a fact that came as a shock to the Samoan international, who found out at the same time as the rest of us.
“I didn’t know I was going to get picked to start and ‘Flanno’ didn’t even tell me,” Leutele says.
“I just saw my name in the starting line-up through Twitter, to take on Canberra in week one. That’s how I found out.
“I couldn’t believe it, and I just thought I’ve got to take this opportunity with both hands.”
He did just that with a flawless defensive effort against the Raiders’ dangerous right-edge, then set up a crucial try for his winger Sosaia Feki and made four tackle breaks to help his side down the defending premiers last Friday night.
Leutele and Beale played alongside each other as juniors at Souths Logan for almost a decade. And with both likely to feature against the Storm, they could combine in Cronulla’s maiden firstgrade premiership.
Leutele admits Beale was the star growing up, but he’s worked hard to peg back his great mate.
“[Beale’s] not an international player with the Kiwis for nothing, so he’s definitely kept me on my toes all year . . . and that’s what’s good about this team – there’s no slacking off, we’ve got great players throughout the whole squad and it’s not just me feeling the pressure.”
When he saw his name directly underneath Jack Bird’s via the Sharks’ tweet two weeks ago, he couldn’t wait to tell his partner Charmaine, who’s expecting twins, and the rest of his family.
“Tonight I had my wife, my baby [Brooklyn] and my in-laws here but I think a few more family members will come down this week so I’ll have to get some tickets for everyone.
“I don’t get to play in front of family too often. My brother came down against the Broncos earlier in the year and my parents, well, I can’t remember the last time – so it’ll be good to get them down, they’re really excited.”