AAP Rugby

Maguire unleashes new Wests Tigers lock

By AAP Newswire

Wests Tigers big man Alex Twal may have played himself out of the front row after leaving a serious impression in his first start at lock.

Twal made a mockery of the coronavirus shutdown by punching out a full 80-minute shift in the Tigers' 28-16 comeback win over Cronulla on Saturday.

Maguire admitted he first considered the possibility of making the subtle shift for Twal at various points last season when he increased his minutes.

"Twal's has been growing like that," Maguire said after the win.

"Last year he probably spent a fair bit of time out in the middle of the park, there were times there well I played him most of the first half and at the end.

"So I knew he had time in him.

"Full credit to him. He's growing his game and he's really growing in stature in our team as well. His presence and leadership around what he's doing."

While much of the spotlight was on club debutant Harry Grant, as well as new fullback Adam Doueihi, it is the minor shuffle in the pack that could be pivotal.

Maguire said there is no reason why Twal's move to No.13 won't be permanent.

"I put him back there as a 13 so the two big boppers can roll a little bit more for him rather than him having to take that load all the time," he said.

"One thing about Twals is that he's always prepared to roll his sleeves up and what he is is he's very strong defensively.

"He makes us really solid throughout the middle."

Maguire also appears to have finally settled on a spine, with Grant and Doueihi shining alongside Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks.

Grant, the loan signing from Melbourne, claimed his maiden NRL try five minutes into the contest and was dangerous with most of his scoots out of dummy-half.

Billy Walters also excelled off the bench.

"I was just pleased for the first time they all played together," Maguire said.

"I've literally got a new spine with Harry - obviously Benj and Brooksy have played quite a bit together - but Adam out the back there as well.

"Over the last 2-3 weeks, we've been fortunate through the circumstances that they were able to spend a bit of time building a combination between those boys.

"I could see that growing as the game was going on. We've still got a few times where we're not quite where we need to be. That'll come in time."