Lawton earns emotional NRL recall
Ten years ago he sat in the stands as an awestruck 11-year-old watching his older brother score the first try by a Titans player so it is fitting that Karl Lawton will on Saturday play his first home game for the Titans against the Roosters.
Lawton made his NRL debut in the centres against the Warriors in Round 17 last season but lasted just 46 minutes before suffering a badly broken ankle that would take more than six months to get back to full strength.
With confirmation from coach Neil Henry that he will be used as the utility option off the bench for Round 1, those hours of injury rehab become a distant memory and he can now look forward to playing his debut NRL game at Cbus Super Stadium in front of friends and family.
And just as Karl was in the stands to see his older brother Kayne score a try in the under-age curtain-raiser to the Titans' first premiership game against the Dragons 10 years ago, so too will Kayne be sideline to see his little brother run out against the Roosters.
When Karl made his debut against the Warriors he and Kayne made history as the first brothers to play for the Titans in the NRL and he admits that playing his first game on home soil will be an emotional occasion for the family.
"Mr brother will be pretty stoked I reckon. If anyone breaks a tear it's going to be him I reckon. Him or Mum," Lawton told NRL.com.
"He actually scored the first try in a Titans jersey. He reminds me of that.
"I've always wanted to [be a Titan]. I looked up to him, he was like a God to me. To other people 'Joey' Johns is their god, my brother I looked up to him for everything.
"I just always wanted to do what he did and playing for the Titans was one of them.
"It's an unreal feeling just knowing that the crowd and everyone is around you and everyone is behind you and backing you. Mum, Dad, brother, sister, heaps of my mates, everyone will be down there supporting me."
Lawton has played the majority of his 33 games in the under-20s in the halves and while his appointed feeder club Tweed Heads intend to use him as a half, he must be ready to fill in at almost any position for the Titans.
Injuries to Nathan Peats, Pat Politoni and Ryan Simpkins in the trial game against the Warriors opened the door for Lawton to earn a spot on the bench and his utility value represents his best chance of maintaining his place in the 17.
"The game has modernised and you do need a utility at 14 because anything can happen in a game," said Lawton, who has played all his junior football on the Gold Coast.
"Now that the interchange has been dropped back you can't stack up four forwards just in case something happens in the backs.
"If I got thrown in the centres I'd be all right with it, if I got thrown on the wing I'd be OK but if it was fullback it would be a bit different because I'm more hands-on.
"I always try to work on my hooker passing as well just in case something happens and I always do a few extras just to make sure I'm tidy.
"Being in that utility role you've got to be tidy in a few areas of your game so I'm always practising my hooker passes and what-not."