‘ I couldn’t really see. I couldn’t open my eyes’
CANBERRA centre Joey Leilua says he felt like a rock had landed in his eye and he completely lost vision just seconds before kick-off last night.
The start of the match was thrown into chaos when an object from the pre-game fireworks lodged in Leilua’s eye.
The start was delayed as confusion centred on Canberra’s bench. Leilua was taken
from the field and replaced by Bailey Simonsson but he was later cleared to return.
“I thought it was part of Melbourne’s game plan,” Leilua joked.
“The doctor didn’t believe me that there was something in there. Eventually my eye lid was so far up he found it. He better have the evidence, still.
“I was disappointed I might let the boys down again.
“Even going out there I was still paranoid. I couldn’t really see. I couldn’t open my eyes.
“The doctor got it out. It was a miracle. The boys were saying Jesus is back.”
Simonsson scored just after four minutes. The winger said he benefited from getting on the field straight away.
“It made it easier getting straight in the game and killing the nerves,” Simonsson said.
“I was fortunate enough to cross the stripe. It was a good start. It’s unreal it’s been a special year.”
An NRL spokesman said “we’re reviewing all circumstances around the incident”.
Leilua rebounded to lay on the final pass for the matchwinning try after coming on to the field after 29 minutes.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said it would have been “catastrophic” if he hadn’t had Simonsson on the bench.
Joey Leilua leaves the field injured after running through fireworks before the start.