June 19, 2024

The level of anticipation surrounding a teenage prospect at Wests Tigers hasn’t been this high since a previous disappointment, albeit one before that resulted in a premiership.

Despite Luke Brooks‘ inability to lead the Tigers to the finals over a decade-long stint, optimism abounds that his successor, 18-year-old Lachlan Galvin, could be the one to break the drought.

In his first two NRL appearances, Galvin has garnered considerable praise, reminiscent of the early impact made by his coach Benji Marshall wearing the same jersey two decades ago.

Marshall’s impact was evident when he led the Tigers to their inaugural premiership just two years after his NRL debut towards the end of 2003.

While expectations for Galvin to replicate such success immediately are modest, the early signs are encouraging following his standout junior career, especially for a club that has experienced recent struggles, finishing with the wooden spoon in consecutive seasons.

BTR Pre-season Podcast: Lachlan Galvin | Wests Tigers

Originally part of the Eels’ system, Galvin was released due to concerns about his size. Ironically, he experienced a growth spurt, reaching 193cm, and found success with the Tigers’ Harold Matthews side, which secured the 2022 title.

In addition to his junior achievements, Galvin captained the Australian Schoolboys after leading Westfields Sports High School to a national title last year.

His NRL debut in the Tigers’ season opener showcased his potential, and he continued to impress in their recent victory over the previously unbeaten Sharks.

Marshall’s decision to bench recruit Jayden Sullivan after just one game in favor of veteran Aidan Sezer was initially perceived as bold, but the response from the halves, including Galvin, earned praise from NRL legend Cooper Cronk, who commended the decisive move and the players’ performance.

“Round 1 saw Sullivan brought in by Marshall, only to be replaced by Sezer, who proved instrumental in securing victory for the team with his adept decision-making and organization skills,” noted Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga. “Galvin showcased his talent, while Koroisau stood out as the best player on the field and Bula demonstrated his skills.”

Meninga emphasized Marshall’s invaluable experience as a mentor for Galvin and Bula, recalling Marshall’s own rise to prominence and Premiership success with the Tigers. “Benji understands how to bring out the best in young players, having been through it himself,” he remarked. “He encourages them to have faith in their abilities and backs them to succeed.”

Corey Parker echoed this sentiment, highlighting Galvin’s fearless approach. “Mentoring is crucial, but ultimately, it’s the player’s character that shines through,” Parker asserted. “Galvin’s fearlessness is evident, especially considering his pivotal role in a struggling team from the outset.”

Parker also shared insights from a one-on-one conversation with Galvin, emphasizing the young player’s resilience and determination. “He exudes confidence and has a fearless attitude towards the game,” Parker added. “His performance in Round 1 was exceptional, and he’s unafraid to take charge on the field.”

Cronk emphasized Marshall’s holistic approach to coaching, which extends beyond on-field tactics to nurturing the personal development of young players. “Benji’s coaching extends beyond football; he’s guiding these players both on and off the field,” Cronk observed. “He’s creating a winning culture while supporting the team’s emotional journey.”

Looking ahead, Galvin is poised to face increased scrutiny as NRL coaches take note of his talent and potential impact on the game.

Lachlan Galvin of the Tigers embraces with his teammate after winning the round three NRL match between Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval, on March 23, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

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