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JUST about the only things they share are a square face and a surname. One was a premiership-winning Kangaroo forward so destructive he was known as “The Brick With Eyes”. The other is a pint-sized halfback so spindly his family call him “The Paver With Legs”.
But there is one thing that rugby league legend Glenn Lazarus is sure about with Blake Lazarus - his nephew is tough enough to handle the NRL.
Lazarus gave the 21-year-old rookie a ringing endorsement last night after Blake was yesterday named to make his NRL debut at halfback for the Tigers in Friday night’s blockbuster against the Bulldogs at the SFS.
“He’s worked really hard and he’s been playing great football for Balmain,” Glenn Lazarus said last night. “I saw him play last week and he was really impressive. I think he’s more than capable of handling the step up.”
Coming from 20-Test great Lazarus, one of the toughest men to ever play the game, that’s no small compliment.
Young Lazarus has bolted from relative obscurity to earn the Tigers’ No. 7 jersey after injuries to Tim Moltzen (knee) and Robert Lui (ankle) left him as the last halfback standing.
Lazarus’s standout form for Balmain Ryde-Eastwood in the NSW Cup was deserving of a promotion to the NRL. But it is a debut that was close to never happening after Lazarus seriously considered quitting rugby league following a second, season-ending knee injury in 24 months last year. “It took a lot of work to get back from where he was and I’m really pleased it’s paid off for him,” Glenn Lazarus said.
The Tigers have placed a media ban on Blake but he said recently of comparisons with his uncle: “What Glenn’s achieved in the game is unbelievable, he’s won five premierships with three different clubs. He’s there if I ever need to talk. I give him a call, but I also want to be my own man. I know that the Lazarus name will always be in the background. But I want to plough forward and make my own name - be Blake Lazarus not Glenn.”
Moltzen, meanwhile, will resist the temptation of radical surgery to hastily repair his injured knee in a bid to ensure his longevity in the sport.
Moltzen received the devastating news yesterday that the damage caused to his left anterior cruciate ligament during the early stages of the Tigers’ win over North Queensland is season ending.
The 21-year-old is not prepared to take risks to rush back this season and has opted to have a traditional knee reconstruction over LARS treatment, where a ligament made of industrial-strength fibres is used to replace the torn natural ligament.
“Only being 21, I just think that actually putting the six months’ work in might benefit me in the long term,” he said.
“So I think [a knee reconstruction] is probably the best option for me to take at the moment.”