Wests Tigers veteran Chris Lawrence says it’s time for young halves to deliver on potential
Simon Brunsdon FOX SPORTS December 21, 2015 3:26PM SHARE
EXPERIENCED centre-second rower Chris Lawrence says it’s time for a young Wests Tigers roster to start delivering on its potential.
The Tigers boast one of the best fullbacks, props and halves combinations in the NRL, and all of them are under 25 years of age.
James Tedesco (22) was one of the best fullbacks in the competition this year, while Aaron Woods (24) announced himself as a long-term NSW and Kangaroos player.
Then there’s the two young halves — Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses — who have both been touted as future Origin and possible Test stars, despite being fresh 21-year-olds.
It’s an exciting core of players for any club, but it hasn’t produced the desired results to date.
The Tigers haven’t played finals since 2011, and the early money has them finishing outside the top eight again in 2016.
Lawrence realises the potential in the club’s roster but admits the Tigers can’t rest on their laurels any longer.
“There’s going to be a point in time where we have to start delivering,” Lawrence told foxsports.com.au.
“We do have a young side and one of the downfalls of that is inconsistency.
“It’s something we really want to try and fix, and that’s what our aim is this year.
“We’re going to have to deliver on that potential at one point or another, so hopefully this is the year.”
Brooks and Moses in particular have struggled to live up to the hype they received when arriving in the NRL as teenagers.
The pair finished third (Brooks) and second (Moses) in the NRL’s missed tackle count this year, producing 75 and 95 missed tackles respectively.
They are both off contract at the end of 2016 but have a clause in their contracts entitling them to a further year at the Tigers if they choose to activate it.
Brooks and Moses both asked the club for an extension on their decision, initially to be made by January but now pushed back to mid-year.
Lawrence wants the young pair to remain at their junior club, and is confident their best football is in front of them.
“I think they have been playing good footy the last two or three years,” Lawrence said.
“They will build on their game and they will continue to grow their game over the next couple of years anyway.
“I think at times there’s been circumstances of having a lot of different players playing with them, due to injury or changeover of players.
“It’s hard as a young half to develop combinations when you’re constantly playing with different people, particularly when you’re young and you’re not experienced in NRL.
“I definitely think they’ve got representative footy in them.
“But that’s a long way off, they’ve got to build their game each year and each week, play consistent footy.”
Woods was named captain of the Tigers at a press conference on Friday, becoming one of the youngest in the NRL.
Lawrence and Dene Halatau will co-captain the team in a leadership group that includes Robbie Farah and new recruit Matt Ballin.
Lawrence, meantime, is keen to impress coach Jason Taylor enough over pre-season to score a ticket to the Auckland Nines in February.