Wests Tigers players say they’re delighted for teammate Chris Lawrence as the veteran forward prepares to make his return from injury on Friday night against the Canberra Raiders.
The club’s all-time leading try-scorer has not played during the 2019 season as yet after suffering serious jaw and facial injuries in late February the lead up to Wests Tigers’ trial match against the New Zealand Warriors in Whangarei.
And after numerous surgeries to repair 11 facial fractures, the 30-year-old will return this week at Bankwest Stadium — much to the delight of his teammates.
“He’s been training really well [so] it’s good to have him back out on the park,” forward Josh Aloiai said. "He’s been really positive to everyone out here in the group and out on the field during training sessions so it’s good for us.
"He’s definitely one of those players I really look up to.
"With everything that he’s overcome, it’s pretty amazing and inspirational.
“He deserves a lot more credit than what people know.”
Michael Chee Kam said Lawrence’s inclusion would be a motivating factor the side as they look to bounce back from consecutive defeats prior to the Round 12 bye.
“He’s definitely a massive leader for us,” said Chee Kam.
"Just having him there will really motivate the boys.
“After going through what he has, for him to come back this early shows his great character and I can’t wait to run out with him again.”
Maguire: Lawrence will play
While it’s not yet clear whether Lawrence will return to the starting side or via the bench, the veteran will likely run out on the left edge alongside Luke Brooks, with the pair set to rekindle the combination that has proven so effective in recent years.
Brooks said Lawrence’s inclusion was one that certainly increased his side potency in attack — something that will be needed against a Canberra Raiders side that comes in to this week’s game with the second best defensive record in the league.
“He’s a massive boost for us as a team and especially me playing alongside him,” said Brooks. "We’ve got a good combination and the work that he does in defence and the good lines he runs in attack is a real boost for us.
“He’s come off a tough injury so it’s been really good to see him rip in to the wrestle and not really be phased by it. He’s gotten his head in there and tested it out, and I think he’ll be huge for us with the experience and tough carries he brings.”