Lawrence tackling one of his hardest roles in years
Author Alicia Newton
Thu 9 Apr 2020, 10:20 AM
He’s in self-isolation, runs his own business and is an RLPA delegate responsible for relaying messages to teammates while speaking to the union on behalf of the Wests Tigers.
It’s safe to say veteran Chris Lawrence had a far more settled life when he extended his stay at the joint venture for another 12 months last October.
“Robbie Farah has been joking around saying he made the right call to retire when he did after tossing up whether to go around again last year,” Lawrence laughed.
“One thing I learnt from last year is how quickly things can change, not just in 12 months but you now look week-to-week.”
Lawrence may not have seen his off-field role coming when he re-signed with the Tigers but he is now tasked with one of the more important jobs of his career in guiding players on the current messages being delivered between the RLPA and NRL.
I want to make sure I represent the players from our club most importantly with their thoughts and feelings about matters," Lawrence said.
"Given I’ve been around for 14-15 seasons I feel like I have a responsibility to make sure the playing group is looked after as much as possible and realistically try to reduce the blow for clubs.
"I couldn’t have told you players who were involved back when I played. It’s probably only been over the last 5-6 years that the players’ association has come together and grown in strengths.
“Players have an involvement and are passionate about the collective voice which is good to see.”
Amid the circus that has been in the opening month of the competition, Lawrence admits the possibility the 2020 season could be the final of his career had crossed his mind well before the coronavirus pandemic took over proceedings.
However, the sudden suspension of the competition had changed his frame of mind.
“It’s the furthest thing from my mind now but then it does make me think whether I could go on next year if I don’t get to play again this year,” Lawrence said.
"That’s something I’ll deal with. There’s no point dwelling over things that are realistically out of my control.
“But, my body will definitely be fresh. It does seem so far down the track at the moment though.”
As players wait on further news regarding an official return date resumption of the competition, Lawrence indicated the Tigers were committed to whatever decisions were made.
Lawrence and his wife Kathryn have a young daughter Emmerson and the veteran forward said players with families would find it harder to play the game in isolation for a longer period of time if that was the avenue the NRL and RLPA took.
“If that was the route we go down there would have to be measures in place for young families,” Lawrence said.You need a buy-in, and it’s a very difficult call. There are guys out there who have kids on the way as well which is even more difficult.
"In saying that all players want to be doing what they love and if we’re not playing footy then there’s no money coming in.
“I’m sure before any of talk of moving away came to fruition the NRL and RLPA will look at what the best outcome is to ensure the product is back on the field but then the players are supported and have an opportunity to have access to their families in some capacity.”
‘The least I can do’: Tigers great Chris Lawrence to tackle 150km walk for Beanie for Brain Cancer round
By Marc Churches
He’s overcome nearly every injury in the book - broken jaw, nose, eye socket, broken both cheekbones, hamstring issues, career-threatening hip dislocation - yet that won’t stop Wests Tigers great Chris Lawrence from putting his body through more pain to raise funds for the NRL’s Beanie for Brain Cancer round.
Lawrence, who retired from the NRL last year after 253 games with the Tigers, will put his body through a 150km walk today when he takes part in ‘The Big Three’ trek, a three-day journey starting from NRL HQ in Sydney to McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.
The 32-year-old revealed it’s all part of his initiative to step up and take on the onus of continuing to raise awareness and funds for Brain Cancer, which the NRL now marks with a dedicated round each season.
“The plan is to do all it (150km), we’ll see how the body goes,” he told Wide World of Sports. "The idea is to try and do it all as best as I can unless the body says otherwise.
"That was the main reason for getting involved.
"They never asked me to do the entire walk, but being the first-year out of footy and knowing I can contribute, the least I can do is put my body through some pain to raise some money for a much-needed cause.
"It was important I got involved in this way. In previous years I’ve tried to do my part as all players have.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to do a bit more, being retired and getting to do a journey like this.”
The NRL’s Beanie for Brain Cancer Round, which was established by the game and its broadcasters in 2017, aims to raise funds for the Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF).
The annual NRL fixture was founded by Hughes, a former Newcastle Knights star and brain cancer survivor, and Nine’s rugby league executive Matt Callander, who tragically lost his battle with brain cancer in 2017. He was just 46.
With everything kicking off when the Broncos take on the Rabbitohs tonight from Suncorp Stadium, the NRL is hoping to raise $3 million over the course of the round, which Lawrence says is a credit to the league and its fans for allowing the cause to grow each year.
“It’s unreal to see how much it’s progressed in a short space of time,” Lawrence added.
"It highlights the rugby league community and how willing they are to get behind really good causes.
"Whether it be players, fans, members, sponsors, people working within the game - everyone bands together for this cause.
"Being someone who’s been part of the rugby league community for so many years, it makes you proud to see how much of an impact it’s had.
Time flies huh?
Seems not long ago he debuted vs the broncs…
He was very quick in his younger days, i saw him turn and run down Slater with ease. The lack of a sidestep stopped him from going to greater heights .A heart like a lion.
It’s hard to imagine he’s only played 2 years of finals football.
I’d be so inspired if I trained or played alongside this man. Good luck Rowdy!
This is why I have so much respect for the guy. He would have cakewalked into any routinely successful club, won premierships and got all the gongs that went with it, but he stayed with us to the end. He gave us everything on field, and the club was such a basketcase he got bugger all in return (I’m speaking in respect to how the team was built and run before anyone chips in with the “he got paid well to do it.”)
You see how his career panned out, and I can (for a microsecond, before the revulsion and hatred of what they did seeps back through,) kind of understand why Moses, Woods and Tedesco left.