"Time to put Lawrence in Origin, says Sheens"

A mature head on young shoulders - time to put Lawrence in Origin, says Sheens
GLENN JACKSON
April 15, 2010

AT SCHOOL Chris Lawrence wore a jersey of sky blue and maroon but this year he wants one of just the blue. ‘‘That’s one of my main goals, to play rep footy,’’ Lawrence said yesterday, when asked about the prospect of a NSW jersey.

His Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens is convinced Lawrence is ready, and that the sky blue’s not even the limit. ‘‘I’ve coached at every level and he can play at any level,’’ Sheens said. ‘‘I don’t think he’d be out of place in any representative team. He was unlucky not to play last year.’’

A foot injury kept him out of all Origin football last year. He appeared destined to make the City side, but was ruled out at the worst possible time.

But Sheens believes the left-sided Lawrence would look at home in the City side this year, paired with Michael Jennings on the right. And then NSW would beckon.

‘‘I think NSW, with those two blokes [Lawrence and Jennings] and the Morris boys, just to start with, they’re well off out wide,’’ Sheens said.

Timing may in fact work for him this year. Tomorrow’s clash with Canterbury will pit Lawrence indirectly against Josh Morris, a fellow left-sided centre who appears to be his biggest obstacle when it comes to Blues selection. Directly, though, he will be up against Jamal Idris, who is part of a defensive combination that is vulnerable. A good performance on such a stage and in such company would give Lawrence a huge boost. ‘‘It’s up to me,’’ Lawrence said. ‘‘I’ve just got to make sure I’m playing better than the other centres. If I’m doing that, hopefully I’ll get a crack.’’

Lawrence was back at his old school, Campbelltown’s St Gregory’s College, yesterday as part of a coaching clinic named the Chris Lawrence Academy. It indicated how far he had come as a first-grader - establishing an academy in your name at age 21 is an achievement. But the player said he had a long way to go on the field.

‘‘I’d still like to improve my game,’’ Lawrence said. ‘‘There’s always things to improve on. I’m not happy with where I’m at. I want to be at a certain level and I’m working hard to get there.’’ Talk to Sheens, though, and it is clear Lawrence has already come a long way. He points to the tries scored outside him - 15 from winger Taniela Tuiaki last season - he scored 21 tries all-up - and five already from his 2010 partner Lote Tuqiri.

‘‘I’m Chris’s biggest fan,’’ Sheens said. ‘‘Not only does he score tries, but wingers outside him score tries as well - not every centre passes. I think he’s one of the best centres playing the game.’’

Having scored four tries himself so far this year, to add to those he has helped create, Lawrence has become a key member of a Tigers squad which, like the centre, is young and talented yet can improve. Intensity and attitude are the keys, according to Lawrence. ‘‘It’s a good sign that we’ve been winning, but I still don’t think we’ve been playing that good footy,’’ Lawrence said. ‘‘We’ve got a long way to go before we match it with the top teams.’’

I don’t think he’s even 50% of the player he was at the beginning of last year around origin time but obviously everyone else will have differing opinions

he really struggled for form after he got injured last year, but he looks to have gotten over it.

In all the game this season there have been instances where he has put on some AWESOME speed to either score himself or put someone else away. His defense is again better and he is becoming very solid all round.

With fulton and marshall feeding that left side in attack it’s no wonder Lawrence and Tuqiri are scoring so often!

I know Josh Morris is scoring tries, but i think Chris is a better defender than him and has more ability to set up his winger, so i have him well in front of Morris. And with Jennings now playing right centre for Penrith, it does open the door a little.

If Lawrence can keep up the good form he has shown this season, I can’t see why selectors wouldn’t pick him. He’s big enough, strong enough, plenty quick enough, defends well, can put his outside man away and knows how to score a good try. Morris is also no mug but I reckon Lawrence has the better overall game.

Morris scores a fair few tries but rarely gives his winger good ball. That is the major difference for mine

@Jazza:

A mature head on young shoulders - time to put Lawrence in Origin, says Sheens
GLENN JACKSON
April 15, 2010

"… hopefully I’ll get a crack.’’

Maybe a bad choice of words? Please, no injuries this year!

Lawrence is potentially very, very good and should play rep footy at some stage. The way he can lure in another defender and then get the ball out wide quickly is a rare skill.

It was funny last week watching the Sunday Roast, they brought up the fastest players in the NRL and the conversation turned to Slater, Jennings etc. Now I have dead set seen Lawrence mow down Slater giving him a good 2-3 metre start over about 40 metres. I just wonder if he is out of most people’s thoughts these days? Just seemed strange he didn’t even get a mention.

He is more tagged as a power runner than a pace machine for some reason.

He is football fast as the Roast panel put the term. Hell he outsprinted Slater whilst cramping up at Leichhardt.

The biggest difference between Lawrence, Jennings and Slater for mine though is that the latter two rely on their pace and it is their biggest weapon whereas with Chris it is just part of his bag of tricks

Chris will be their. His Strong Defence will be the thing that gets him selected, We Blues need someone like him top mark Greg Inglis or Falou.

The fact that he is a machine in attack is the strawberry on top.

@MGB:

Lawrence is potentially very, very good and should play rep footy at some stage. The way he can lure in another defender and then get the ball out wide quickly is a rare skill.

It was funny last week watching the Sunday Roast, they brought up the fastest players in the NRL and the conversation turned to Slater, Jennings etc. Now I have dead set seen Lawrence mow down Slater giving him a good 2-3 metre start over about 40 metres. I just wonder if he is out of most people’s thoughts these days? Just seemed strange he didn’t even get a mention.

I couldn’t believe how quickly he accelerated in Canberra when he made a break late in the game. Although he didn’t score from that play I was surprised at just how fast he was after he went through the defensive line.

Lawrence has to be there. He is made for Origin, even though I hate using that term (most likely because the brain-dead dropkicks in the media use it to describe Ennis).

Tim is dead right with regard to Lawries impending selection.

Remember when we beat the Dragons in '07 (I think) Lawrence scored a 100m try and he was easily pulling away from one of the Morris boys that day.

And he outpaced Slater that time too.

He’s no mug.

I’d love to see him get a shot at Origin this year.

The way he fixed his defence is a credit to his ability as a footballer. I still want to see him find open space a bit more but the attention he receives is indicative of how opposition teams regard him.

I’d love to see Lawrence lining up for Origin. He’s a good, young player - I’m looking forward to many more seasons of watching Lawrence going around, and hopefully always in Tigers colours.

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