Lovett wants to stick with Tigers kids
Breakout Wests Tigers back-rower Kyle Lovett says coming through the ranks at the club with childhood friend Curtis Sironen and fellow young guns Luke Brooks, James Tedesco and Mitch Moses is a dream come true and hopes he can extend his deal so they can stay together.
The emergence of Lovett in 2015, along with the good form of Sironen, has meant the club has far more easily been able to recover from the losses of senior forwards like Bodene Thompson (Warriors), Adam Blair (Broncos) and Liam Fulton (retired) than many expected.
Lovett may not have been fully expecting to be a first grade regular so early in the season but has praised new Tigers coach Jason Taylor for having the faith to give him a shot at the club he's been at since he was a kid.
"I've been here my whole life; I'm from Leichhardt, played my junior footy with the [Leichhardt] Wanderers in Five Dock. I was a Balmain junior through Harold Matts, SG Ball, all the way through there and it's been good – I love the club," Lovett told NRL.com.
"I've been playing with Curtis since I was nine, against him then with him through the junior clubs so to be playing together is like a dream come true, it's awesome."
The no-nonsense 22-year-old is averaging over 33 tackles per game this year. Having been a late inclusion in Round 1 in the centres for the injured Chris Lawrence, he reappeared in Round 4 when Dene Halatau and Aaron Woods were out injured and has now started three consecutive games in the back row even with those players back.
"I had a good pre-season. It was good that 'JT' had the faith in me to give me a run," Lovett said.
"There are really good players [in the club's forward stocks] and I'm stoked obviously to get a spot and now I just need to work hard to hold my spot."
Off contract at the end of the year, Lovett is hoping a strong year will put him in a position to extend his stay at the club along with his fellow local juniors.
"I'm off contract this year. I want to have a really big year this year, I want to stay and the club, that's my main goal, playing first grade and staying at the club is what I want to do.
"There's a good crop coming through with Curtis and 'Teddy' and Mitch, some good young forwards too – you'd be surprised, our senior players are quite young too and they're out there killing it, it's a good squad we've got here."
Sironen also spoke highly of Lovett's contribution to the team.
"I've had a lot to do with 'Sarge' coming through," Sironen told NRL.com.
"He's always been the guy who's always worked hard and a good mate too, he's one of those guys everyone has confidence in. I'm glad he's got his opportunity and I know he'll do everything he can to hold on to it, he's killing it.
"It helps when the guys next to you are your good mates, you put in a bit extra and I'm hoping he and I can sort of cement our spots in the back row together for the rest of the year and hopefully we keep the big fella at the club for many years.
"Being local boys, we love being around the club and the area, it always helps playing with your mates. Aaron [Woods] was a big reason I wanted to be at the club too so hopefully we can hold on to him."
James Tedesco's decision to re-sign with the Tigers last year after almost leaving for the Raiders highlights the bond the group shares, according to Sironen.
"I think it showed with Teddy re-signing last year [the bond at the club]. 'Brooksy', Mitch, 'Teddy', 'Sarge' and I, guys like [Campbelltown area juniors] Jessie Sue and David Nofoaluma, the Wests juniors as well.
"We've all bonded and we're really happy that we're growing as footballers and we're together. We're happy to be doing that at the Tigers, it's just about trying to get everyone to stay on board. 'JT' now too, he's really steadied the ship."
Sironen said the group internally hadn't been surprised by how quickly the forward pack had developed.
"We had a big off season, JT brought in what he wanted into the place and we all got on board really quick and now it's just about building on every game – we're still getting better but we're happy with how we're going.
"The structures that we have in place and the boys that are there, we know no-one's going to let each other down, it's just about going out there and doing it now. We're happy with how we're going.
"Guys like Liam Fulton, Gareth Ellis, Bodene Thompson have left the club but it opened up a spot for us to cement and hopefully we can show 'JT' that we're more than capable of doing that.
"I want to make that No.11 jersey mine for the next couple of years. We haven't forgotten about those boys but we're excited with the team that we have now."
Tedesco also spoke in glowing terms of the platform the forwards have provided the outside backs.
"Guys like Kyle Lovett and 'Siro' have been awesome, they had a big pre season and cemented a spot on each edge and those two are best friends so to see them playing together is awesome.
"Kyle Lovett, it was great to see him get a debut in Round 1 and he's really made the most of it, it's really good to see. Marty [Taupau], 'Woodsy', Keith [Galloway], Jessie, they're all killing it."