Lawrence enjoying back-row again
Wests Tigers centre-turned second-rower Chris Lawrence is better equipped this year to handle a move to the pack than he was in his first taste of the position when moved there by then-coach Tim Sheens in his second year of first grade.
Lawrence played five games off the wing in his debut year in 2006 before being used off the bench, at wing, centre, five-eighth and lock in his second season by Sheens.
After a full season at centre last year Lawrence has again had an interrupted year due to injuries this season and the emergence and development of young players such as Delouise Hoeter and Kevin Naiqama and presence of other players like Tim Simona, Pat Richards and now-injured David Nofoaluma has seen a return of the experiment of using Lawrence in the back row for four straight games since Round 11.
"It's good to get closer to the action and get a bit more ball. There's extra responsibility in the extra workload so [it's a case of] just getting the body used to that," Lawrence said this week.
"I'm really enjoying it though."
The move further infield has meant an increased workload in terms of tackles and hit-ups compared to being out in the centres. "It's harder decision making in the centres but not as much work," he added.
Lawrence stopped short of declaring the move to the back row a permanent shift, but says he feels noticeably more ready for the move this time compared to 2007.
"I'm enjoying it there at the moment. It's not my first time. In my second year of first grade Sheensie had me in there for eight weeks, when I was only quite light, so I've had experience there.
"[I] probably [wasn't] quite ready for it then because I wasn't physically developed enough but now I am.
"The way we're playing, the structures we now have at the Tigers, it definitely suits my game."
Lawrence has been named to play his fifth game of the year in the pack when the side runs out on Leichhardt Oval against the Panthers on Sunday, and Lawrence was eying off the challenge against the talented Penrith pack.
"They're got a good pack of forwards, and a good young side, the Panthers, so it's going to be tough for us," Lawrence said.
"We need to worry about ourselves though, that's the biggest concern over the past few weeks. We need to get right what we want to do on the field and put an 80 minute performance in. We've been too inconsistent the last few weeks."
Lawrence is concerned by the way the side can drift in and out of games, or put in such a powerful performance as the one that downed South Sydney a fortnight ago before coming unstuck against last-placed Manly last week.
"The last four or five weeks we've had a few losses. So it's about turning around momentum like any club and getting that confidence.
"[We've had some] lapses in concentration. I'm not quite sure what the reasons were. The start against Manly was pretty similar to what happened against Souths.
"We stuck with them at Souths and got rewards whereas we had lapses against Manly and let them back in the game and let them skip away to a lead we just couldn't run down.
"That was the main difference – we fell in and out of the game whereas with Souths we went with them."