Lawrence hopes cruel sabbatical extends his NRL career

Chris Lawrence’s horrific facial injuries threatened to end his playing career. Now it’s possible they may prolong it.

Lawrence missed the opening 12 rounds of the season after a head clash with teammate Ben Matulino left him with injuries on par with those sustained by car crash victims. The Wests Tigers veteran underwent surgeries that included the insertion of seven plates spread across nearly a dozen fractures, threatening to prematurely end his career.

However, Lawrence has made a remarkable comeback, underscoring his value with a tough carry and quick play-the-ball that allowed teammate Benji Marshall to kick the winning field goal against North Queensland in their last match.

If there is a positive from the injury-enforced layoff, it’s the chance for Lawrence’s body to recuperate from the rigours of 13 straight seasons in the NRL. It’s also tested his resolve and convinced the off-contract forward that he wants to play on in 2020.

“Having that time of rest, not just from the rigours of playing but the day-in day-out of training, getting my body back to the point where it is ready to play again, definitely gave that side of things a break,” said Lawrence, who moves into the starting side for Thursday’s clash with South Sydney.

“I’m off contract at the end of the year and I’d love to keep playing. I didn’t really think about the contract or anything beyond this year because for me the challenge was just to get back and play this year. Now that I’ve done that it’s about getting back into the week-to-week role I have to do for the team and playing well.

“It’s all good and well to play but if I’m not playing well and doing my role for the team, then someone else is going to take my place.

“Hopefully I’m doing that and by the end of the year I can have a conversation with the club about my future.”

At a time when loyalty appears to count for nothing as players constantly change clubs, Lawrence has made all 229 of his NRL appearances for the Tigers. He hopes to add to that tally this year and next.

“There was some discussion before the injury but that got put on hold,” he said. “For me as well, I wanted to make sure I wanted to play football and wanted to come back, that I had that drive and passion.

“I felt that through the whole recovery period, otherwise I could have pulled the pin at any stage. I just wanted to get back to playing some good football for the team, being confident I can still perform at that level. We’ll obviously start those discussions soon.”

The Tigers have huge recruitment and retention decisions to make in coming months. Football manager Kelly Egan officially signed off this week and his replacement, along with coach Michael Maguire, will oversee a roster restructure. The pair need to make calls on the futures of Lawrence, Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah, who have all indicated to management they want to continue their playing careers in 2020.

At the same time, powerbrokers are attempting to offload a number of players deemed surplus to requirements including Josh Reynolds, Ben Matulino, Russell Packer, Elijah Taylor and Chris McQueen.

It is a delicate situation for a side still in finals contention coming into Thursday’s crucial clash at Bankwest Stadium. It will be a home game for the Tigers, but there aren’t any happy memories for the joint-venture outfit at the ground to date. In losses to Parramatta and Canberra, they have conceded 79 points and scored only six.

“We’ve had two shockers there,” said fullback Corey Thompson. “It’s good that the fans rock up in numbers and we need them to come again on Thursday night. We’re going to prepare well and hopefully come away with two points from our first win at Bankwest.”

Forward Thomas Mikaele added: “We haven’t had good performances at Bankwest and hopefully this week it turns around.

“It’s a good stadium and a good venue, we need to put in a good performance for our fans there.”

Its great to hear he wants to go on, it sounds like he’s recovered well.

Sign him up management, Lawrence still has a lot to offer our team. Make him a 1 club player.

There is a lot of upside to keeping Lawrence on for another 2 years…but he has to continue to earn his place

As I’ve said a trillion times already, we can sign up Rowdy for up to 300K outside the cap for long service and he is the only player that qualifies.

We should certainly utilise it since we are carrying a cap penalty next year.

No doubting we’ll re-sign him.

Cap exemptions, loyal one club man, experienced, better than most of what we have already at the club, no problems off-field.

It would be stupid not to.

Good club man. A man a woman could take home to meet mum.

As a second rower, he is mediocre. Always has been and always will be.
It’s the Wests Tigers way to keep the rusted on long termers until they can’t even bend down to tie up the bootlaces anymore.

At his mediocre best against the Cows I reckon especially in GP…

Cheap as chips for a club struggling with cap relief no brainer…eventually will be used for depth and he hits lines well

last edited by Jimmy

There is no amount of money that can repay the debt our club owes Chris Lawrence.

@matchball said in Lawrence hopes cruel sabbatical extends his NRL career:

Good club man. A man a woman could take home to meet mum.

As a second rower, he is mediocre. Always has been and always will be.
It’s the Wests Tigers way to keep the rusted on long termers until they can’t even bend down to tie up the bootlaces anymore.

You’re telling me you wouldn’t sign him on under a long service allowance deal to remain in the top 30, so we can appropriate the whole of the cap available to us elsewhere while bearing a 300K cap penalty?

Even if he finishes the year down on previous form, he would be handy to have on in CC as a capable & experienced back up.

Hardly news worthy. Of course he’ll be re-signed and deservedly so. As for the ther two hangers on…😖

First picked every week. Mediocre? - not in my books. Defensively strong, runs intelligent lines and breaks the line often, big on effort plays, respected by team mates, fearless.

That’s another thing, first picked?
It’s a sad state of affairs when you take Chris Lawrence as the first pick. No other NRL club would pick him to warm the bench.
We are known to accept mediocrity though.

You aren’t basing your opinion on his talent. You’re basing in how cheap he is.
Even you know deep down he is a plodder.

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