Lebanon prop Alex Twal says playing for the Cedars in the 2017 World Cup was one of the best experiences of his career and he can’t wait to do it again.
The 25-year-old was born in Australia to a Lebanese mother and a Jordanian father. His parents moved to Australia when they were young.
Twal, who has made 89 appearances for Wests Tigers since making his NRL debut in 2017, made his international debut for Lebanon in the 2017 World Cup. He played in all four of their matches as they reached the last 16.
Reflecting on the last World Cup, Twal told the Bloke In A Bar podcast: “That was massive. I probably didn’t realise how big it was until I participated in that World Cup with the boys.
“Adam (Doueihi) started his career there, Robbie (Farah) was already part of it and we had Mitch Moses, Michael Lichaa and Tim Mannah so we had a good group of boys.
“It was probably one of the best experiences of my career to be honest.”
Alex Twal: Lebanese support brought new life to World Cup
“Being in Sydney as well, seeing the amount of support we got… We were on camp for six weeks and everyday there would be a Lebanese restaurant that wanted to host us. It was just crazy how the community got begin us.
“The way the Lebanese community got behind rugby league and specifically the Cedars at that time was massive. It was real humbling as well just to see the amount of support we had.
“We got our first World Cup win against France and what came out of that was just massive. There was drums going and there was people playing the flute, it was just going crazy.
“It (Lebanese fanbase) brought a new sort of life to the World Cup, it was massive. I put it down to our Lebanon fanbase for the reason we went so well in that World Cup. The amount of energy they gave us in that World Cup was massive and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had.”
Twal has never been to the homeland of his parents but was hoping to make the trip to Lebanon in 2021 before the prior to the World Cup, which was postponed until autumn 2022.
He said: “We were supposed to go this year. Me and a few of the boys met up with Michael Cheika and we spoke about raising funds to get the team to go over the Lebanon to connect with our roots a bit closer leading up to the 2021 World Cup but because of Covid we couldn’t.
“I haven’t been yet but I’d love to go over there. At the moment they aren’t going through too good of a time so hopefully things get better there.”
Lebanon have been drawn in a group alongside New Zealand, Ireland and Jamaica in this year’s tournament, which is staged in England; and Twal can’t wait to pull on the Cedars jersey once again.
He added: “It is going to be mad, it’ll be awesome. I think we’ve got a pretty good run this time compared to last time.
“Last time I think we versed France, England then Australia and then Tonga. We played good against them but this year we are in a different pool. It’ll be good.”