Lawton putting horrific memories out of his mind
Karl Lawton will put the memories of horrific injuries he suffered to the side when he makes his Warriors debut at NRL level on the same ground where he broke his leg and dislocated an ankle.
The former Gold Coast Titan Karl Lawton, who is in line to make his first Telstra Premiership appearance for the Warriors when they host the Wests Tigers on Saturday, suffered one of the most catastrophic injuries in NRL history at Mt Smart Stadium two years ago.
Lawton signed a two-year deal in March this year after regular back-up hooker Nathaniel Roache had to undergo season-ending lumbar disc surgery in his back.
Comfortable playing at hooker, lock, centre or even in the halves, the 22-year-old Lawton played 12 games for the Titans (2016-17) before making the move across the Tasman.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has named Lawton on the bench for the Tigers, with Issac Luke named at hooker but unlikely to play due to a knee problem, expected to keep him out for up to four weeks.
Kearney said he would give Luke every chance to prove his fitness.
Whether it's off the bench or in the starting role however, Lawton will run out onto Mt Smart Stadium to play a match for the first time since 2016 when Lawton - on debut - broke his leg and dislocated an ankle during the Titans' 27-18 loss to the Warriors.
The injury, which required several surgeries, put him out for the remainder of the season. But he was able to fight his way back to NRL level last season and featured 11 times for the Titans.
Lawton brings a "different skill set" to the middle third of the field compared to Luke, but one Warriors centre Peta Hiku said adds a lot of value.
"He's been great since he's been here Karl, he's been keen and you can see his energy has really stepped up this week with Bully (Luke) in doubt," Hiku said.
"His communication with the other guys in the spine is really good and he doesn't mind a bit of contact in the middle there.
"He likes to get amongst it so I'm just happy for him and hope he goes well on Saturday."
Kearney said Luke still had "a few boxes to tick" before a final decision would be made, but was confident in Lawton's ability regardless.
"Karl played a number of positions at the Titans so he's a genuine utility. With Nathaniel going down early it was really important for us to bring in someone with that NRL experience and I thought Karl would be a good fit for us," he said.
"I'm sure he will go well if given an opportunity."