Tigers cult hero given permission to leave as ex-NRL executive to lead club review
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Cult hero Alex Twal is the latest Tiger to be linked with an exit from the club after being given permission to speak to rivals about an immediate switch as the wooden spooners instigated an external review into the operations of the embattled club.
Twal, who produced one of the moments of the season when he scored his first NRL try after 116 games, is the Tigers’ longest-serving player outside winger David Nofoaluma after Luke Brooks’ exit, and still has a year to run on his contract.
But rival clubs have been alerted to the Lebanese international’s availability for next season despite being one of the most experienced players at the Tigers, who are desperately trying to assemble a squad under Benji Marshall capable of climbing the table.
According to a Tigers source not allowed to speak about the matter publicly, the club would have no issue if he stays put for 2024 but won’t stand in his way if he can secure a long-term deal at an NRL rival.
Several officials at rival clubs spoken to by this masthead have said they have been approached about Twal’s potential signing as the NRL’s silly season kicks into overdrive.
The 27-year-old has been a mainstay of the Tigers’ pack since his debut in 2017 and has developed a cult following, taking jibes about his inability to score an NRL try until this season in good humour.
Alex Twal could be on the move from the Tigers.Credit: Getty
He finally crossed the stripe in the Tigers’ loss to the Storm at Campbelltown in June, much to the amusement of his ecstatic teammates.
It comes as the Tigers confirmed they had engaged former NRL chief financial officer Tony Crawford to put the microscope over the club following a second straight wooden spoon season.
Crawford, who is now employed by Benchmarking Matters, will head the review after more than 2000 supporters signed a petition for a sweeping probe into the governance of the club.
The petition was driven by a group of supporters from a fan podcast and the review could have potential ramifications across the organisation.
Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe and chairman Lee Hagipantelis.Credit: Getty
Fans made their protests visible in the final weeks of the season, targeting chief executive Justin Pascoe in particular, with banners inside the ground at Tigers matches.
Twal’s uncertain contract status comes at a busy time for the Tigers, who have already extended the contract of captain Api Koroisau until the end of 2026 and tabled a multimillion-dollar offer to fullback Jahream Bula.
Bula, who won the club’s Kelly Barnes Medal as the player of the year despite not making his debut until round eight in his rookie NRL season, has been offered a bumper deal until the end of 2027. It would make him the club’s longest contracted player if he were to accept it.
Twal has developed a reputation as one of the NRL’s nice guys and has produced many tireless displays in the middle, and at one stage was averaging almost 60 minutes a game in 2020 and 2021.
However, with the emergence of Fonua Pole and Justin Matamua to complement front row starters David Klemmer and Stefano Utoikamanu, Twal will be given the opportunity to link with a rival looking for a dependable middle forward.
Marshall will take over as head coach at the Tigers after Tim Sheens’ exit and is already trying to put his stamp on a roster that will welcome halves Aidan Sezer, Jayden Sullivan and Latu Fainu next year. Fainu’s brother Samuela is the club’s other major recruit from the Sea Eagles for next season.
Brooks (Sea Eagles), Daine Laurie (Panthers) and Tommy Talau (Sea Eagles) will leave the club with Alex Seyfarth in talks with the Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, the Dragons have released prop Zane Musgrove from the final year of his contract as Shane Flanagan’s roster rebuild continues.
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