Fit Lawrence pleads for Nines shot
He can't remember the last time he lasted an entire pre-season, but that won't stop Chris Lawrence pleading his new boss for a plane ticket to the Auckland Nines.
The veteran Wests Tigers centre was like most of us earlier this year, mere lounge room witnesses to the inaugural short version of the game, as he rehabbed his injured ankle that cut short his pre-season.
But now at full strength and with some much-needed December miles in his legs, Lawrence wants in on rugby league's answer to Twenty20 cricket over in Auckland next month.
"I didn't play [last year as] I was coming off ankle surgery. I'd love to have the chance to play this year, it's the first full pre-season I've had in a number of years. Hopefully I can get the chance to play," he told NRL.com.
"I'd love to put my hand up, and it'd be really good for me to obviously get a run. It's a pretty exciting concept. Hopefully, fingers crossed, between now and then I stay injury free and get a crack at it."
Since recovering from his career-threatening hip injury in 2011, Lawrence has struggled to regain the kind of form that saw him picked for the Kangaroos in 2010. In his past 37 games, he has crossed the stripe just seven times.
Last season, the St Gregory's graduate admitted battling form issues early in the year before again being hampered by an ankle problem. But now, with many teammates also at pains to stay on the field, Lawrence is finally enjoying a clean bill of health.
"Two years ago was the first time I started pre-season healthy, but I got injured midway through," he said. "[Before that] I think it was '09 – actually probably earlier than that – that I've had a full pre-season. I haven't missed a session yet so fingers crossed I can continue and have a bit of a run without any injuries."
Lawrence said it was vital for him to complete the entire pre-season without any setbacks.
"It's massive. It's really important, especially when you have particular lower injuries and you're an outside back and you're relying on that speed, power and agility," he said.
"When you come back to full training two weeks before trial games, and you play a trial then you're into the season, it's hard to catch up on that much needed running you need in your legs.
"For me this full pre-season in is definitely going to help me. I just want to hit the ground running in Round 1."