Jaw didn’t make me tentative: Lawrence
September 20, 2010 - 7:44PM
Wests Tigers centre Chris Lawrence says his team’s woeful left-side defence had nothing to do with his early return from a broken jaw in last Friday’s NRL semi-final win over Canberra.
Lawrence returned a week earlier than expected for the 26-24 victory at Canberra Stadium but was found out in defence as Raiders second-rower Bronson Harrison ran riot on the fringe.
But the City Origin centre says that wasn’t because he was trying to protect his jaw in his comeback.
“It wasn’t any sort of tentativeness, it was just a lot of communication errors, a few bad decisions made by all of us out there on that left hand side,” he told AAP on Monday.
"Our left side didn’t have the best game defensively but it was just a few communication problems between us, me coming back and a few changes.
“That will be fixed up this week.”
Despite Harrison scoring one try and creating another strolling through some poor defence, Lawrence does not believe he was targeted.
“In a semi-final game if you try and target one player too much you probably go away from your own game-plan,” he said.
"They probably just worked to their strengths.
“They came my side as much as any other game.”
Lawrence believes he was “probably 100 per cent” going into the match after healing quicker than his surgeon had anticipated.
“There was always going to be a risk because it might not have been a hundred per cent, but it would have taken a fair sort of hit to do it so that gave me a bit of confidence going in,” he said.
"Once you’re in the game you don’t really think about it.
"It might play on your mind a bit before the game but I made sure the day before the game I got plenty of contact in … so once I got my first run and first tackle in the game, it was the last thing on my mind.
“My main concern was I didn’t want to think I’m right going into the game and five minutes in get injured and leave the team short.”
The Tigers don’t just believe they can fix their leaking left-side, they reckon they can match St George Illawarra’s impregnable wall.
“Most premierships are won on the back of defence, Melbourne have shown it over the years and St George set the precedent this year,” five-eighth Benji Marshall said.
But that doesn’t mean the signature flick pass, which resulted in a try to lock Chris Heighington last Friday, will disappear.
“We’ve got this far off the way we’ve been playing so we’re not going to change that now and go into our shell and play conservative,” Marshall said.
“That’s what we’re known for and that’s how we play so we’re going to have to play like that.”
The Tigers expect all of their players to back up against the Dragons at ANZ Stadium on Saturday despite several niggles and prop Bryce Gibbs sporting a moon boot on Monday.
There are certainly no concerns over Marshall, who the club said was in doubt for most of last week.
“There’s nothing wrong with my knee, it was just acting, just trying to get a role on something, if there’s any roles out there, hook me up,” he said.
He was tentative alright. He had every right to be 3 weeks back from a broken jaw. He will be much better for the run and have a great game this week in my opinion. However on Friday there were a few occasions he did not want to put his head in tackles. Not bagging him at all, a very tough effort to get out there, but thats the way i think it was on friday.
Stop Gasnier - Sheens issues Tigers ultimatum Glenn Jackson
September 21, 2010
WESTS TIGERS coach Tim Sheens has issued a challenge to his left-edge defence, saying his players ‘‘have to be better’’ to combat St George Illawarra centre Mark Gasnier.
But Tigers centre Chris Lawrence has responded to the call by insisting he is relishing the prospect of facing Gasnier in a preliminary final.
Sheens admitted the threat of Gasnier worried him before the second grand-final qualifier on Saturday night, especially after Canberra second-rower Bronson Harrison’s dominant display through the left-hand corridor last Friday night.
Asked whether he expected Lawrence, who returned from a broken jaw against the Raiders, to be better for the run this Saturday night, Sheens said: ''He’ll have to be. He’s up against an improving Gasnier. The right foot of Bronson got them down that side, so the right foot of Gasnier obviously worries me.
‘‘The trademark Gasnier is coming back. He always seems to be confident playing us. We have to be better.’’
Lawrence said yesterday he was up to the challenge of facing Gasnier - whom, he maintained, was the best centre in the world just a matter of months into his return from rugby union.
‘‘I’m looking forward to it - can’t wait,’’ Lawrence said. ''He’s the best centre in the game. He’s obviously only just come back from union, but he’s starting to find his feet now and starting to get back to his best form that he showed when he was with the Dragons [previously].
‘‘It’s going to be a tough challenge for me, but it’s a semi-final. If it wasn’t tough, I shouldn’t be here. This is why we play. Playing in front of a big crowd in a semi-final game against the world’s best centre - what else could you want?’’
Lawrence said his three-week stint on the sidelines contributed to the, at times, fragile defensive display by the Tigers’ left-side defence, which also includes winger Lote Tuqiri and halfback Robert Lui, against Canberra. ‘‘Our left side wasn’t the best defensively,’’ Lawrence conceded.
‘‘It was probably more communication - I’ve had a couple of weeks out. Once we got our communication right, our defence was solid. We were just really patchy, and it was all down to communication, whether it be me blowing a bit … we’ll fix that up this week. Our left side’s been pretty strong all year. That’s one game.’’
Lawrence certainly believed he would be better for the run, admitting it was a slight gamble to take the field so soon after suffering the break against Melbourne in round 25.
He said watching the Tigers suffer a heartbreaking loss in the qualifying final against the Roosters motivated him to make an early return against Canberra.
‘‘It’s a hundred per cent now,’’ Lawrence said. ''It was a bit of a risk [to return to the field last Friday night], but, in saying that, I could have gone out and done something to my ankle or my knee.
‘‘There was always that slight chance that if I did get a shot to the head, it [the jaw] probably would break. There’s a risk in everything. It’s a contact sport.’’
Channel 9 sport has a small piece on Lawrence, nothing of major interest in it, but he said that if the Tigers don’t play for the full 80 minutes, the Dragons can put points on them real quick. He’s excited to be going up against Gasnier, I reckon Rowdy will bounce back in fine style this week.
I’m glad he got that game under his belt. He’ll be a hell of a lot better this week thanks to it.
right on the money. personally, i wouldve been sh’ing bricks first time i had to hit up or tackle! another week only means his jaw is a week better off and therefore so too will his game.