WHEN Robbie Farah was sounding out the Gold Coast as a possible home, the flow-on effect dragged a likeable Titans teen into the spotlight – despite the fact he’s yet to play any first grade football.
Kayne Lawton, a halfback-turned-hooker, was known more for looking good with his shirt off than for any football talents… but that’s not to say he doesn’t have any – just ask the locals and they’ll tell you he has plenty.
Anointed as the long-term hooking prospect now that Farah has re-signed with Wests Tigers and Nathan Friend is in his last year at the club, Lawton refuses to get ahead of himself, instead taking the ‘fame’ in his stride.
“I didn’t mind the media attention at all really,” the 19-year-old says. “I thought I coped fine and the club and other players here were really good about it all. I didn’t feel any pressure during the hype and I just let it all pass without getting carried away. That’s the best way to try to handle it I think, not let it be an issue.”
This attitude shows why Lawton is highly regarded on the holiday strip. It’s part of the reason why he’s been given some time in the trials – and why he is a real chance of making his NRL debut sooner rather than later.
“I really want to be a part of the NRL but I know my time will only come if I keep putting my head down at training and perform on the field,” he says. “My first priority is playing well for the under-20s and if I do that I will hopefully give myself a chance at making my debut in the NRL.
“Carty (coach John Cartwright) talked to me a little bit around the time of the Friendy/Farah stuff and he just said I need to stay focussed on my footy and maybe then I’ll get a shot. It was straight-forward stuff, so it makes my goals simple.”
Tell us when and where it all began for you?
I started playing footy when I was five on the northern New South Wales coast for the Tweed Coast Raiders. I was there for four years and then I spent a year in Penrith, then some time on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland before coming back to northern New South Wales. Dad was moving around a bit for work and naturally the family went with him. It wasn’t a problem moving, as long as I got to play footy.
You grew up pre-Titans days, so who did you support?
I was a mad Sharks supporter my whole life, they were always my team. I don’t know why I liked them but they were just my team growing up, until the Titans entered the competition. When the Titans joined it was awesome. Living in the area it was only natural to join the supporter base and it gave all of us players in the region something to truly aspire to. There is nothing like getting the chance to play for your own area; it is just that little bit more special. When they approached me while I was at school to join the club I was stoked!
Keen schoolboy football fans would know you from the Arrive Alive Cup. Are you fond of your achievements there?
Yeah; I played at Palm Beach Currumbin and we went right through to the semi-finals after winning the Queensland portion of the competition, only to lose to Patrician Brothers in the semis. It was great to win the Queensland division with a good win over Keebra Park, another great footy school. It’s always good to do well with your school mates. I was playing halfback at the time and it was just a lot of fun. I won a few junior competitions growing up but the run with Palm Beach was the biggest achievement of my career in terms of team success.
What do you do away from football?
I love to play a bit of golf and like any good coast boy I enjoy surfing. I’d like to think I’m a good golfer… but I’m not really. There are plenty of really good courses up around the Gold Coast, so any chance I get I try to get out for a hit.
We also hear you like the weights and are as strong as some of the club’s NRL forwards!
I can’t lie, I do like the weights. I guess it is a bit of a hobby as I like to do a lot of training and gym work, even outside the Titans’ environment.
You could be rugby league’s next top model! Any excuse to get your shirt off we’re told…
[Laughs] Ha, ha! – yeah I don’t mind getting my shirt off, I guess, and if modelling work comes my way I certainly won’t be knocking it back. It’s pretty cool and really a bit of fun. I was lucky enough to do a bit of modelling for charity last year and it helps get your head out there. Anything that helps my profile with the girls can’t hurt either! And then if you can get some coin, that is also good.
Are you fine with becoming a hooker?
I don’t mind the change, and that’s the truth. I have played in the halves my whole life but I see it as something different and something exciting and it’s a position that could have opportunities. I am still training in the halves as well, keeping my skills up just in case I’m needed in that role or as a utility.
If you weren’t playing rugby league what would you be doing?
I’d probably be training to become a PE teacher or something like that. I have done a personal training course, so I could work in that field as well. And I have also done some development work with the Titans so I might have a few options, which is nice. This year I’d like to get into the development side of things a bit more and also maybe get some personal training clients.