Wests Tigers prop Alex Twal on Blues coach Brad Fittler’s radar
Wests Tigers’ tackling machine Alex Twal is the Parramatta discard who has the full attention of NSW coach Brad Fittler.
While Fittler stopped short of declaring Twal a Blues bolter for the Origin series opener on June 5, he admitted the 22-year old’s mammoth performance against Brisbane in round five made him hard to ignore.
“He made 58 tackles, which is extraordinary for a front rower. He’s a unique player in that he’s a front rower who can play big minutes,” said Fittler, who visited Twal in the Tigers’ dressing room after their win over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Fittler and Twal first got to know each other when the Blues coach was in charge of Lebanon at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
“He’s always been one of the best front rowers coming up in his age group all the way through. He’s always been the first picked for New South Wales. I’ve always been impressed with his attitude. He’s got everyone’s attention now. I like the kid.”
Twal was promoted from the bench to the starting side this year by new Tigers coach Michael Maguire and the move has proved a masterstroke.
According to Fox Sports Lab, the young prop is the most effective defensive front rower in the competition this season, making 201 tackles in five rounds and missing only three.
“I take a lot of pride in my defence and Madge is a real defensive coach but it’s not just me, right across the board all the boys are putting in work and defending for each other,” Twal told The Daily Telegraph.
“I just try to thrive off that and improve my performances so I never let anyone down. I’m never satisfied, I’m never content. I just always want to keep on improving.”
Twal, an Eels junior, was considered one of the best prospects in the game having played for NSW under-20s and the Junior Kangaroos in 2015 and 2016.
The prop didn’t see a future for himself under Eels coach Brad Arthur and that helped deliver him to Concord in 2017.
“I was young at that stage but the opportunity wasn’t coming at the Eels, so I had to hedge my bets and move on,” he said.
“It was a blessing in disguise. I couldn’t be happier at the Tigers.
“It was the best decision I have ever made coming to the Tigers and I haven’t looked back. “The Tigers were willing to give me an opportunity in first grade and I took that with both hands and it’s worked out for the better.”
Veteran Tigers hooker and Lebanon teammate Robbie Farah was also glowing in his praise of the rising star but he couldn’t help but point out a particular flaw.
“I think he’s been the form front rower for our team. I can’t wrap him too much because he was spraying me after the game in an interview calling me a fossil saying I was born in 1971. “The one thing about him is he’s actually not the smartest bloke in the world.”
Well deserved if he gets it