Lovett better for first-grade experience

Kyle Lovett must love coming to Wests Tigers’ annual Grand Final Luncheon.

Since making the step up from playing his junior footy for Balmain Tigers into the Wests Tigers system, Lovett has always had a reason to enjoy the end-of-season Luncheon.

In 2012, the forward was there as the captain of the Club’s premiership-winning NYC Toyota Cup team after his side (which featured players such as David Nofoaluma, Kurtis Rowe, Asipeli Fine and Sauaso Sue) thrashed the Canberra Raiders 46-6.

That year, the Club’s coaching staff also named Lovett the NYC Player of the Year — an award he took out again in 2013 after his side were knocked out in the Semi Finals.

Moving on from the Holden Cup system at the end of 2013, Lovett featured prominently in the Club’s NSW Cup side in 2014, and continued to showcase his strong potential and work-ethic by being voted as the NSW Cup Player of the Year — making it his third Coaches Player of the Year award in succession, albeit across different grades.

After another big pre-season under a new NRL Head Coach in Jason Taylor, Lovett would make his surprise first-grade debut in Round 1 against the Gold Coast Titans, before going on to feature in 21 of a possible 24 games for the Club this season.

Lovett was named the Club’s Rookie of the Year at this year’s Grand Final Luncheon.

And of the four season awards he’d won since joining Wests Tigers in 2012, Lovett said that this year’s recognition meant more to him than he could have ever expected.

“I just feel really honoured to not only have this award, but also to have been given the opportunity to play as many games and minutes as I did this season,” Lovett reflected.

“To be honest, before this year I was thinking that it would have been good to get a game or two last year. Asa [Asipeli Fine] and [Brenden] Santi are good mates of mine from the 20’s and when they debuted towards the end of last year, I remember thinking and wishing that I could have been out there.

"But I look back now and think that I’ve pretty much played this whole season and to get it in Round 1, with a fresh team, fresh Coach and a fresh year, was actually meant to be and really good for me as a player.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better than to debut in Round 1, and then to look back at the end of the year now on what I’ve achieved since then.”

With his first-grade debut — and 20 games since — under his belt, Lovett believes he’ll be in a much better position to improve as a player next year due to the experience.

“I’ve talked to a few of the older boys and I think the best part about it — and even they believe it’s good for me — is getting so much experience under my belt in one year.

“It’s a lot of games and lots of wins and losses and how your body goes through it… you can’t really learn that unless you go through it yourself during the year.

"You can imagine it and know it’ll be there, but you can’t really learn it until it happens.

“So the experience in getting that under the belt is the main part that I think will help me, but also the confidence too.

"There’s an adjustment that takes place and it takes some time before you feel like you’ve properly found your feet in the league, and I think with the whole year under my belt, as well as another pre-season, I’ll be much better for it."