Joey Leilua might just be the most hated man in the NRL right now.

The Wests Tigers centre has come under fire for a sickening "cheap shot" on Penrith Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards during Saturday evening's loss at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney.

In the 77th minute of the round-eight clash, Leilua was sent to the sin bin after flinging his right arm into Edwards' jaw, sparking a mammoth brawl.

He will miss the next four matches after entering a guilty plea for dangerous contact.


The disgusting act came after his brother copped a high tackle from Panthers hooker Api Koroisau — there were initial concerns Luciano Leilua suffered a fractured jaw, and a penalty try was awarded.

But Joey was unable to control his emotions, giving away several penalties in the second half before his eventual sin-binning.

"He was emotional and he gave away penalties, you just can't do that," Tigers coach Michael Maguire said after the loss.

"He is aware of it. He has been around long enough. He knows what he has to do. I will talk to Joey.

"They are costly moments and we need to be better in those situations. Those are the things we will be talking about during the week.

"You could see that there was a lot of passion, the boys are fighting really hard to change what we have spoken about over the last month and now it is about channelling that to be able to win those close games.

"We put ourselves in a great position to take the game but they have got to learn how to take the next step."

Wests Tigers' Joey Leilua was sin-binned. Photo / Getty Images
Wests Tigers' Joey Leilua was sin-binned. Photo / Getty Images

Former Sydney Roosters star Braith Anasta condemned the "unnecessary" act from the Fox League commentary booth.


"Jeez he comes up with some dumb plays BJ," Anasta said on Saturday.

"That is just so unnecessary.

"He needs to settle down, he has to go for that. He does some stupid things, and he doesn't need to. It's been his achilles heel his whole career Joey, he just can't control his temperament."

Andrew Voss bluntly agreed: "That's just crap".

On ABC Grandstand, New South Wales Blues great Luke Lewis argued Leilua should be suspended for the remainder of the season, questioning whether two minutes on the bench was a worthwhile punishment.

Co-commentator Andrew Moore agreed: "A sin bin? That's weak as water."


"That doesn't mean anything with two minutes to go."

The Daily Telegraph reporter Michael Carayannis called it "a disgraceful act" and a blatant "dog shot".

News presenter Russel Barwick called Leilua a "dumb footballer", accusing the 28-year-old of "single-handedly" costing the Tigers any chance of winning.

"Joey Leilua cannot play first grade next week given what he has done tonight," Barwick posted on Twitter.

"He has single-handedly cost the Tigers any chance. He's not a great player by any stretch. He's a dumb footballer".

Leilua could be facing a lengthy period on the sidelines, with the NRL expected to hand down a punishment in the coming days.


The Panthers secured a 19-12 victory on Saturday, pushing themselves up to second spot on the 2020 NRL ladder.

Penrith will take on the Cronulla Sharks at Bankwest Stadium next Saturday, while the Tigers will face the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the same venue on Friday evening.