Lawton puts cruel misfortune behind him
The smile that was spread across his face as he limped across the field at Pizzey Park, his broken ankle being protected by a moon boot, after making his NRL debut last season tells you all you need to know about the positive outlook Karl Lawton has on life.
The Titans utility had made history by joining his brother Kayne as the first brothers to represent the Titans when he was chosen to play in the centres against the Warriors in Round 17 but his dream debut turned into a nightmare after 45 minutes.
With his leg caught in a tackle underneath him, Lawton suffered a sickening break that ended his season yet after flying home first class from Auckland he turned up to meet the media on Tuesday with his positive attitude well and truly intact.
But when he suffered a dislocated shoulder in Round 2 against the Knights this season and with a history of groin surgery the 21-year-old questioned his future in the game for the first time.
It didn't go unnoticed by his teammates, particularly fellow Palm Beach Currumbin alumni Kane Elgey.
"Obviously the first couple of days after it happened, we had recovery and video and he was rattled because he's probably had the worst luck you could have coming into first grade," Elgey told NRL.com.
"He was down, there's no question, but when they found that out it wasn't as bad as they first thought he thought he might even be right to play the next week.
"It's in his nature to be positive. He was a year below me at school so I've known him since probably Year 8 and he hasn't changed. Last year he got injured playing his first NRL game but he was still happy to get that one game.
"He always looks on the positive side of life so that's one of the best things about his personality."
Ahead of his return to New Zealand this weekend for the clash with the Warriors on Sunday, Lawton spoke of the doubt that entered his mind following the Newcastle game and whether he in fact had the mental strength to fight back from yet another serious injury.
"I was a bit worried to be honest," Lawton said.
"I was thinking, Geez, not another season-ending injury or even career-ending. I'm glad nothing too bad came out of it.
"I was just talking to my girlfriend and I called my brother and parents and they just said to stick it out and see what happens.
"Everything happens for a reason; if it's good it's good, if it's bad it's bad and there's nothing you can do about it.
"I was sitting there and thinking, Wow, not this again. But I'm glad it's all good now."
With no prior shoulder injuries of note Lawton only missed one game before returning last week against the Cowboys, playing 30 minutes off the bench at dummy-half where he threatened to bust open the North Queensland defence on a number of occasions.
He played predominantly in the halves coming up through the junior grades but Elgey believes Lawton could prove most effective playing a role at hooker.
"He's deceptively strong and very hard to tackle so once he goes out of dummy-half he can be pretty hard to stop," Elgey said.
"He played hooker a bit when we played 20s together and I loved him at hooker. I reckon that's his position but in saying that he can fill in anywhere.
"He's got that utility role but if he was to pick a position I reckon nine is probably his best in my opinion."
As for a return to Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday Lawton is looking forward to catching up with a number of Warriors players who sent him text messages of support last year and forgetting about the pain of his debut.
Even if others continue to remind him of it.
"A few people have been saying some jokes about it, some mean jokes, but I'm all right," said Lawton.
"It's out of mind at the moment. It's the last thing I think about. As soon as I cross the line to play it's the last thing I think about.
"Shaun Johnson and a few others messaged me after that as well, Issac Luke and they all said some nice things so that was pretty special and a pretty cool thing to have.
"They'll be hunting for a win like us. It's just another game of footy, you've got to go out there and do your best and hopefully get the two points."