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New City Origin skipper Chris Lawrence was supposed to be enjoying the delights of the Hunter Valley with his partner this week. Instead he'll head to Tamworth and lead a young outfit on to Scully Park to face the might of an experienced Country squad. asked Lawrence after the Wests Tigers' 30-22 win over the Rabbitohs last Thursday night whether he thought he would be a shot of a City berth, which he promptly said he hadn't thought about it.

Fair enough too considering he hadn't featured for City since 2012. 

But then Sunday afternoon rolled around and a phone call came through from City's team manager Paul Sironen – he was to captain a team with no less than 11 debutants. 

"It's a big surprise. It's going to be a big week and a mix up in the routine of the weekly stuff with the Wests Tigers so I'm looking forward to it," Lawrence told

"With this City team having a lot of debutants it means there will be plenty of enthusiasm amongst the squad. I've played a couple of times for City before so any experience I can pass on to these guys I will.

"I'm the old one at 27," he added with a laugh.

"There's so much young talent in the NRL at the moment and games like this one is perfect for them to showcase that on a different level outside of the club footy."

Among the 11 debutants are Lawrence's Tigers teammates David Nofoaluma and Kyle Lovett. 

Lawrence flagged 23-year-old Lovett as especially deserving of his representative debut considering the pressure he has carried for much of his young 30-game NRL career.

Lovett made his NRL debut earlier than anyone at the Tigers anticipated last season. Shockingly to most, the Five Dock RSL junior hasn't looked out of place and has rarely been sighted out of first grade since.

"It's definitely going to be great for his confidence. Being a part of this camp he's going to learn plenty of things which he can apply back to his form at the Tigers. Hopefully it can improve him as a player," Lawrence said.

"It's already good recognition for him that he's made it this far so early in his career. Last year he probably played a lot more games than he thought and the club thought he was going to play but he's played good footy and hasn't looked like dropping out of the team."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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