[OPINION] Josh Aloiai can be an elite NRL player
(By ME because I am bored. No analysis of his game here. I noticed he has been carrying himself differently and wanted to comment on it.)
Josh Aloiai has realised what it takes to be an elite NRL player.
He has been at the Wests Tigers since 2016. A one year, rookie contract bloomed into a reliable player. He started as a second rower, moving to lock, then finding a home in the front row. He is now a leader at the Wests Tigers, a goal he set for himself long ago. His coach, Michael Maguire, believed there was a large amount of untapped potential, and challenged him to be more than just a member of the squad.
Since the 2020 NRL season restarted in round 3, he has been one of the most consistent players for his team. Heads were starting to turn, fans of opposition teams were recognising his accomplishments.
Things hit the fan in round 11 against Parramatta. His lateral movement lagged and basic errors snuck back into his game. In the next two games against the Warriors and Newcastle, he lacked physicality and was man-handled. This was the turning point. After nine great performances, there was one mediocre one and two bad ones. All-in-all, he had performed well in three quarters of his games. This is not enough. The elite players in the NRL have great performances nine out of ten games, and go entire seasons without having poor games. Aloiai wants to be one of those players.
Round 14 against the Bulldogs saw him return to the form of those nine great games. He made his presence known both physically and statistically, to both the opposition and his own team. If the performance was converted to a statement, perhaps it would read, “This is our standard. You meet it every week.” In the heat of a game, the performance lifts your team. After the game, self-reflection reveals one’s true standards. Those who bask in the glory have reached their peak. Those who can both celebrate, acknowledge and critique themselves will grow. Aloiai knew that he was simply doing his job. The best players do not dwell on past performances. They take notes, analyse and evolve their games.
Pride has always held the Tigers back. The sense of satisfaction in a personal performance often led to searching for repeat sessions, often forgetting the process it took to experience it. No two performances are ever the same, no matter which medium they are expressed through. In rugby league, trying to repeat what you did last week will only end in disappointment. It has been the club’s achilles heel since its inception. Aloiai aims to break this mold, show his teammates how it is done and drag the club into a new era. Consider him the barometer of the Wests Tigers. If he is on, they are all on.