Wests Tiger Chris Lawrence aiming to become one of the dominant centres of the NRL
The Daily Telegraph
February 29, 2012 12:00AM
CHRIS Lawrence has set himself the challenge to prove he can rival Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges as one of the game’s dominant centres.
The injury-plagued Wests Tigers star will run out for his 100th first grade game at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday when the competition favourites kick off their 2012 season against the Cronulla Sharks.
After fully recovering from a dislocated hip that allowed him to make just nine appearances for the Tigers in 2011, Lawrence is confident he can answer coach Tim Sheens’ challenge and prove he belongs in the same class as Queensland’s dynamic duo.
“That is definitely a goal of mine this year, to really be one of the dominant centres in the game,” Lawrence, 23, said from Tigers training yesterday. "It’s no secret I want to play State of Origin.
“It has been a goal of mine for probably two or three years and either through bad form or injury it hasn’t come about. For me, it’s just about staying on the field and staying healthy and playing consistent football … consistently making line breaks and defending well, and that’s something I want to do.”
Sheens says Lawrence has the ability to match Inglis and Hodges - and if he stays fit, Sheens says, he will solve a major problem for NSW coach Ricky Stuart.
“It’s been very unfortunate for him the last couple of years,” Sheens said. "The Blues have been interested in him but he has been out at the time. This will be the year.
"At the end of the last two years there has been a lot of centre/three-quarters unavailable for the Australian side so he pushed up the pecking order and he has certainly done the right thing and not let anyone down.
"In fact, he has shown that he can handle it.
“But the big challenge for him is obviously to get that Blues jumper and stand up against the likes of Inglis and Hodges.”
With maybe another eight or nine years left in him I think that (with a reasonble run of injuries) he could become one of our greatest ever players.
For a young guy he oozes class - and now has the confidence to accompany it.
No big head on this kid - just a realisation of his potential.