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Tigers' Lawrence ready for big NRL season

The first half of Chris Lawrence's NRL career hasn't lived up to its potential but that's only heightened the hunger in the Wests Tigers star.
Tigers' Lawrence ready for big NRL season
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Feb 3 AAP - The first half of Chris Lawrence's NRL career hasn't lived up to its potential but that's only heightened the hunger in the Wests Tigers star.

When Lawrence became the Tigers' youngest debutant as a 17-year-old back in 2006, he had the league world at his feet and all the time in the world.

The exciting Tigers were fresh from their maiden premiership and State of Origin football beckoned for the skillful centre.

But entering his ninth season of NRL, Lawrence is yet to make a grand final and is still without a Blue jumper.

Injury has restricted him to an average of just 17 games a year and the Tigers' consistently low finishes on the ladder have hardly helped his representative cause.

However, here's the good news - Lawrence is only 25.

Time is still on his side, and he's in full training for the new season after recovering from shoulder surgery.

Lawrence wants to step up as a leader in 2014 in the post-Benji Marshall era, and is coveting a return to the representative frame, having last played for Australia in 2011.

"I suppose (injury setbacks) do make you more grateful - when you are injury free - and hungry," he said.

"It's about getting your body right. Injuries are part and parcel of the game and you just have to accept that they come at times. It's frustrating but once you get games under your belt you play yourself back into fitness and form.

"I'd love to play rep footy... but I haven't had many consecutive games in the past two years so for me that's my goal.

"If I do that and the Tigers are playing well and rep footy comes, then so be it."

Former Tigers coach Tim Sheens dabbled a couple of years ago with Lawrence at five-eighth, but there's no chance of the Campbelltown junior filling Marshall's boots in the No.6.

However, Lawrence does want to fill a leadership void and revealed he dreams of one day captaining the club.

"For me it's about leading by example and that's what I've liked to do and the way I've liked to teach the younger guys," he said.

"It's obviously a goal for the senior players to try and improve on the last few years which have obviously been disappointing."

On the injury front, the Tigers are confident Tim Simona (shoulder), Aaron Woods (knee) and Keith Galloway (toe) will be on deck for the start of the season or shortly after.

Tim Moltzen is also ahead of schedule despite fracturing his kneecap before Christmas.


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