Wests Tigers players at the RLWC 2017
There were a number of impressive performances from Wests Tigers players over the weekend, with Fiji and Tonga going through to the semifinals of the 2017 RLWC!
Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama and incoming recruit Taane Milne both shone in their win over the Kiwis, while Tuimoala Lolohea scored the opening try in Tonga's win over Lebanon.
Despite strong individual showings, the weekend wasn't as good for Lebanon's Alex Twal and New Zealand's Russell Packer, who were both bundled out of the World Cup with defeats.
Elijah Taylor (NZ) and Mahe Fonua (Tonga) were unused reserves for their respective sides.
What a tournament from Alex Twal!— Wests Tigers (@WestsTigers) November 19, 2017
🇱🇧 International debut
💪 169 tackles (1st in RLWC)
🔥 97% tackle efficiency
🏃♂️ 530 metres gained (2nd in team)
And he's 21. 👏 pic.twitter.com/6IfJi12Yt2
ALEX TWAL (Lebanon)
Less than a month after making his international debut, Alex Twal again staked his claim as one of the best young front rowers in the world with a superb performance for Lebanon. The 21-year-old made 39 of his 43 tackles attempted, while also running for 138 metres from his 16 carrers — more than any forward in his team. Through his four games, Twal made more tackles than any other player at the World Cup (169) and may well finish the tournament as the leading tackler despite being knocked out in the quarterfinals.
TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (Tonga)
Lolohea continues to grow in to the five-eighth role throughout the World Cup, and again injected himself at crucial times to help guide Tonga home against Lebanon. Having scored against New Zealand, Lolohea made it two tries in two weeks when he backed up on the inside to touch down for the opening try of the game, while also adding 159 kick metres from his seven kicks on the day. Lolohea also produced three offloads, made 16 of his 22 tackles, and ran for 59 metres from his seven runs.
KEVIN NAIQAMA (Fiji)
Fiji's inspirational leader of the World Cup, Naiqama produced one of his best performances for Fiji when it mattered most to steer the Bati to a famous upset win over New Zealand. The fullback ran for more metres than any other player in the game, finishing with 205 metres from his 15 runs — almost 30 more metres than any one else. He also made six tackles at crucial times, while recording a linebreak too.
TAANE MILNE (Fiji)
One of the more dangerous attacking players throughout the World Cup, Milne showed a different side to his game on Saturday night with a wonderful shut-down performance of the Kiwis' left-edge attack. Milne made 23 of his 25 attempted tackles at pivotal moments of the game, while also adding 103 metres on the ground from his 12 runs. As well as his three offloads, Milne also slotted the eventual match-winning penalty goal in the 65th minute as his goal-kicking skills continue to grow throughout the World Cup.
RUSSELL PACKER (New Zealand)
Packer didn't get the minutes off the bench that he had in previous weeks, with just over half an hour on the field to help the Kiwis try and get back in to the contest against Fiji. In that time, however, he again showed his talent with 23 of his 25 attempted tackles made, as well as 76 metres from his seven runs. Having earned his way back in to the black jersey earlier this year, Packer showed he certainly belongs on the international stage throughout the World Cup and will no doubt be a key player to watch in many years to come.