Tiger youth behind Lawrence shift
Veteran Tiger Chris Lawrence has revealed his recent shift from centre to the back row was a way to bulk up his inexperienced team's defence, and allow other rookies a chance to play out wide.
David Nofoaluma and Tim Simona looked on from the sideline injured in the club's 27-20 loss to the Titans, with Delouise Hoeter and NRL debutant Nathan Milone making up the Tigers' centre pairing, and Lawrence said the opportunity to play in the forwards for the first time since 2007 is a transition he is thoroughly enjoying.
Scoring their first try in 167 minutes when Lawrence crossed for one of his two tries for the game midway through the second half against the Titans – his first tries in almost a calendar year – the 26-year-old said playing in the back row gives him the opportunity to have a greater role in attack.
"I played in the back row a bit when I first came into grade. [Former Tigers coach Tim] Sheens put me in the back row, lock, five-eighth, on the wing and everywhere so it's been a while I suppose and I'm definitely enjoying the new role," Lawrence told NRL.com.
"It's a bit different being one closer to the middle so obviously you have to do a bit more of the tough stuff and a few more tackles so I just have to get my body a bit more used to that with the extra work.
"With me being one of the experienced guys I have to take on extra responsibility. With there being a lot of young guys in the squad, it means it's up to me to lift my game defensively."
Tigers coach Jason Taylor was complimentary towards Lawrence, who has appeared to make the transition seamlessly.
In his two games in the forwards Lawrence has averaged 124 metres and 31 tackles with Taylor adding the 165-game Tiger was someone his teammates "could look up to".
"Chris is such a professional. I've never seen many guys in my career that are as professional as he is about preparing themselves every week for a game of footy," Taylor said.
"He's an absolute credit to himself and we're lucky to have him at the club leading the way in that regard."
As Lawrence makes a fist of his positional change, the Tigers are still looking to overcome their recent attacking woes having lost six of their past seven games and their last four straight.
Only scoring an average of eight points per game in their month-long losing streak, Lawrence said their attack is a work in progress considering the relative rawness of their halves.
While the Tigers did manage to score 20 points against the Titans, three tries in eight minutes at that, Lawrence said realistically the side can't play well for small segments and expect to come away with a win.
"It's a new system for us this year where everyone has had to learn things from scratch," Lawrence said.
"There's always going to be games where it doesn't click and the last couple of weeks it hasn't. The back end of the [Titans] game showed we were starting to find our form again and we know we're going in the right direction."