Tigers destroyer makes stunning pre-game admission

Steve Zemek

Mahe Fonua has made a stunning revelation after starring for the Wests Tigers in their eight-point win against the Cowboys on Thursday night.

The Tigers centre revealed he was dropped by coach Ivan Cleary, only to earn a recall before putting in a match-turning performance in the win over North Queensland.

After earning a reprieve from Cleary, the Tigers wrecking ball took his opportunity with both hands as he trampled over the Cowboys in his side's 20-12 defeat at Leichhardt Oval.

Fonua turned in arguably the game of his career as he ran for 215 metres, made five tackle busts and one linebreak as well as a string of bell-ringing tackles that left the Cowboys stunned.

It was a rollercoaster week for the 25-year-old who was on Monday told he would be dropped, only to earn a second chance 24 hours later.

"It's been a pretty eventful week actually," Fonua said after picking up man-of-the-match honours.

"At the start of the week I was actually told I wasn't playing.

"Then I got a call late Tuesday night to tell me that I was playing. That's rubgy league - it was a massive turn of events in 24 hours.

"I saw it as a second chance and an opportunity to cement a spot in the team."

Fonua was one of the standouts for the Tigers in the win over North Queensland. Pic: Getty

The circumstances of Fonua's recall remain somewhat of a mystery.

Cleary said Kevin Naiqama had been withdrawn from the game but would not detail why - only that it was not for disciplinary reasons.

Cleary will now have little choice than to include Fonua in his team to take on Penrith next week.

It was a breakout effort for Fonua in his first year back in the NRL after two season in the English Super League with Hull FC.

Asked why he brought Fonua back from England, Cleary said: "What we saw in him was probably what everyone saw tonight.

"Mahe's one of those guys, sometimes when he gets the ball, both coaches hold their breath. Tonight he had all the right moves. He was a threat constantly, he's a presence as well.

"Back at the Storm he was a good player but there was an error or two around him.

"Generally speaking if you asked the oppositon whether they wanted to play against him or not, it'd probably be not."