Ricky reaches 100
His debut might be one he would rather forget, however the memorable moments certainly flowed on from that point, with the quietly spoken Ricky Leutele always reluctant to talk too much about himself.
That includes him going into too much detail about ‘THAT’ tackle in the 2016 Grand Final.
With the Storm threatening to crush the hopes and dreams of all 17 Sharks, not to mention the 10’s of thousands of fans watching on, it would come down to one tackle.
Somebody just please make it, Coach Shane Flanagan and his 70,000 assistant coaches at ANZ Stadium that Sunday shouted in unison.
It just happened that it would be Leutele to make that final, telling play, helping the Sharks to that first and unforgettable NRL title.
While many would shout it from the rooftops and be happy to bask in the glory, Leutele is much more low key, a man who prefers to let his actions do the talking.
“I don’t really talk about it, I don’t say anything about the tackle, but it’s cool to be remembered as the person who made the last tackle of the game,” Leutele reluctantly offered when talking to Sharks TV.
As crucial as that moment was, it shouldn’t define a player who has improved with every season at the Sharks and who has developed into one of the leading centres in the NRL.
Since debuting as a 20-year-old back in 2010, in a match he confesses he would prefer to forget - “I just remember we got thumped by the Storm” – Leutele has overcome injury, one of those injuries season ending, as well as a few bumps in the road along the way, to arrive now at a point where he is one of the first names Flanagan pencils in on the team sheet every week.
On the Sharks left hand side he has struck up a lethal partnership with close mate Sosaia Feki, the pair unsung heroes in many victories and throughout the Grand Final winning year of 2016.
Leutele reaches a special milestone at 1300 SMILES Stadium on Saturday night when he runs out for his 100th NRL game, all 100 played at the Sharks, which is quite an achievement for a player who wasn’t sure he would get to play any at all.
“Reaching my 50 games (was special), I never thought I’d play one, so to play 100 is pretty cool,” he said.
What would also be ‘cool’ would be a win by the Sharks and for Leutele to be able to celebrate his milestone match in style.
DOB – 10/4/1990 – Brisbane
Junior Club – Logan Brothers
NRL Debut – Sharks v Storm, round 24, 2010
Rep Honours – 4 Tests for Samoa
NRL Games – 99
Tries scored – 27