Wests Tigers veteran Chris Lawrence believes the team’s young forward pack could one day rank among the best in the joint venture club’s history.
The current starting unit of Josh Aloiai, Thomas Mikaele, Alex Twal, Luke Garner and Luciano Leilua are all aged 24 or under and have impressed in the Tigers’ 2-1 opening to the season.
“With the work ethic and the attitude that they all have, they’ve definitely got the potential to be up there with the best forward pack that the Tigers have had,” Lawrence said ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Titans at Suncorp Stadium.
"Being a young forward pack, they’ve got an opportunity to really develop and maintain those positions for a number of years.
“It is an exciting time for a club, but I think the most exciting thing and pleasing thing for someone like me who is a senior player is their attitude and their work ethic.”
Twal, who played 80 minutes at lock, and Aloiai, who ran for 150 metres and scored a try, were standouts in the side’s win against Cronulla last Saturday.
Their efforts are inspiring 23-year-old bench prop Oliver Clark.
“I think Josh Aloiai and Tom Mikaele are among the best ball runners there are in the NRL and Alex Twal is obviously the workhorse that he is,” Clark said.
"I think our pack will certainly catch a few people by surprise and they’re definitely doing a good job for us at the moment, setting the platform for us in that first 20 [minutes].
“[l’ve learned from them] just intensity and commitment, especially in Josh Aloiai. I find he’s a real leader in our pack.”
Clark and his fellow interchange players have set themselves the goal of exceeding the energy brought by the starting big men.
“We were talking about it during the week with our head of performance, Andrew Gray, he was with Cronulla previously [including when the Sharks won the 2016 premiership],” Clark said.
“He said the great clubs have a sort of pack mentality about their bench, where they want to come on and out-do the starting players.”
Clark said the mobility of the Tigers pack would be an advantage with the quicker ruck speed due to the new six-again rule.
While the middle forwards received their share of praise, Lawrence also lauded second-rower Garner, who saved one try with a desperate chase and scored another by backing up against the Sharks.
“It’s those little things that are really pleasing to see a lot of the young guys pick up because it’s something that traditionally takes them a while,” Lawrence said.