Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman played 80 minutes against the Tigers in Round 18.

Tolman more than just an unsung hero

Aiden Tolman mightn't be on the radar of New South Wales Blues selectors, but his work ethic for the Bulldogs in the NRL Telstra Premiership hasn't been lost on his skipper. 

Bulldogs captain James Graham was full of praise for his fellow front-rower following his side's 32-22 win over the Wests Tigers on Saturday night, describing Tolman's influence on the squad as "massive". 

Graham and Tolman have developed a strong bond, with the Englishman even earning the nickname "Bupa" in reference to their strikingly similar looks. 

Tolman played 80 minutes for the third straight week, churning out 207 metres and making 41 tackles in another tireless effort for the blue and whites. 

While flashy forwards such as Sam Kasiano and Tony Williams are more likely to attract the week-to-week headlines, Graham said his front-row partner's exploits hadn't gone unnoticed in the sheds. 

"He's massive for us. I don't know what the perception from outside our dressing room is, but he's loved and admired by all of his teammates in there," Graham said. 

"It's not lost on any of us what he does. Sometimes you can just survive playing 80 minutes, but he doesn't do that. 

"He goes out there and does so many little things, which, unless you're an expert who can critique the game very well and know about very minor details about stuff that he cleans up, when you add that to the work ethic that he has, the boys really appreciate playing alongside him."

 


Tolman said it was humbling to receive plaudits from his skipper, but insisted he wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. 

"I'm just playing my role within the team and it seems to be working alright at the moment," Tolman told NRL.com. 

"It's always nice for your peers to think that of me. I'd like to think that I do a pretty good job within the team, and that's why Des picks me every week. 

"For me, it's always been about if I know I'm playing well for the team and doing everything I can, then I'm doing my job well. 

"I'm not too concerned about what the punters say or what the critics say, because if I know that I've had a good game then I've done my job. It's always nice to hear the teammates saying that and I'd like to think that they appreciate what I do."

Given his imperious form throughout his nine-year career, it is somewhat surprising that Tolman has yet to play for the NSW Blues at State of Origin level.

The 27-year-old has represented Country Origin three times, but hasn't been given an opportunity to play for his state. 

Tolman said he would love to one day play for the Blues, but revealed winning a premiership with the Bulldogs after grand final losses in 2012 and 2014 was what was currently driving him.  

"When I was younger I got a bit more disappointed than I do now," Tolman said when talking about his non-selection. 

"I sort of understand that they're out there to pick a side that they think will win, and that's their job. That's what they need to do. It hasn't worked too well for them in the first two games, but I'm still a Blues supporter and hopefully they get this third win. 

"The team they think will beat Queensland, I'm not in that, and that's fine. That's the way rugby league goes. They pick a side thinking that they'll beat Queensland, and there are plenty of guys out there who are disappointed they didn't get picked. 

"Those things come along when you're playing good footy. Whilst those accolades are nice, and playing Origin is definitely a goal of mine – I'm not going to say I don't want to play, because I do – but if I'm playing good enough footy then hopefully that day will come. 

"I know here, I'd definitely rather win a premiership with this team. If I'm playing for the Dogs, that's my number one goal."