Wests Tigers backflip: Twist in Alex Twal contract drama

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The Wests Tigers have had a sudden change of heart, informing Alex Twal that he is now part of their plans in 2024 despite telling him he could leave the club just weeks ago.

The Tigers recently gave permission for Twal to test the market and were willing to release the middle forward from the final year of his $525,000 contract.

Wests Tigers forward Alex Twal is now staying.Credit: Oscar Colman

The Bulldogs had expressed interest and held discussions with his management about a potential three-year deal, while the Manly Sea Eagles were considering a four-year offer.

Both clubs weren’t willing to pay the entire portion of Twal’s $525,000 contract in 2024 and wanted the Tigers to chip in at least $100,000 next year.

The Tigers don’t want to pay part of Twal’s salary and have decided that he is better value to them on their roster. Twal’s management was informed of the club’s change of position on Tuesday and told that coach Benji Marshall wanted him in his team next year.

The Tigers and Sea Eagles were in a discussion for a potential swap deal that would have seen Sean Keppie move from Manly to the Tigers, however he instead chose to sign with South Sydney.

Wests Tigers prop Alex Twal (left) and Manly Sea Eagles forward Sean Keppie.Credit: Getty

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.

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.

He finally crossed the stripe in the Tigers’ loss to the Storm at Campbelltown in June, much to the amusement of his ecstatic teammates.

The Tigers, who have already extended the contract of captain Api Koroisau until the end of 2026, have also secured boom fullback Jahream Bula on a multi-year extension.

Jahream Bula has been a revelation for the Wests TigersCredit: Louise Kennerley

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 extended until the end of 2027.

There’s a clause that has been inserted into Bula’s new deal with the Wests Tigers that the club chose not to announce. The final year of the deal in 2027 is a mutual option.

The Tigers were at loggerheads with Bula’s management in recent weeks due to the club’s reluctance to agree to a clause that would have allowed the boom rookie to leave in 2027 if the Tigers failed to make the finals in the previous three seasons.

It’s a similar clause that the club agreed to with Stefano Utoikamanu. Some at the Tigers were unaware of the prop forward being granted such a clause and there was a strong resistance from the board to allow Bula to have the same clause inserted in his deal.

The club instead agreed to insert a mutual option for 2027. If Bula takes up the option he is guaranteed $800,000 in 2027, but if the club takes up the option it will be for $900,000. The deal, which has been significantly upgraded over the next two years, is worth about $2.7-$2.8m over four years.

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