Wests Tigers forward Chris Lawrence says Saturday's game will be a special personal milestone as he celebrates his 250th NRL appearance — all of which have come for the club he grew up wanting to play for.
An Eagle Vale St. Andrews junior, Lawrence made his memorable debut for the club at just 17 years of age and has featured in Wests Tigers colours for every year since 2006 — making him the longest serving member of Wests Tigers squad following Benji Marshall's return in 2018.
As he brings up his 250th game this week alongside fellow Life Member and close friend Marshall, the 31-year-old said it was a special occasion to look back on given the rollercoaster ride of injuries throughout his career.
"It's obviously something to pretty proud of it — when I finish my career and look back on I'll be very proud of given the injuries and setbacks I've been through," Lawrence reflected.
"At the start of last year there was a point in time that I thought I'd played my last game, so I'm very happy to be playing 250 games.
"I'm proud of the fact that I've just kept turning up and doing my job for the team.
If I can look back on my career and say that I always put my best foot forward and did my best for the team — regardless of what had happened to me or the challenges that I faced — then I'd be pretty happy and proud.Chris Lawrence
"I like to pride myself on the fact that I prepare the best I can week-in and week-out and get myself ready for everything each week."
While clearly an important milestone regardless of result, Lawrence was quick to turn the focus to the on-field clash this Saturday, with Wests Tigers desperate to bounce back after a shock loss to the New Zealand Warriors last weekend.
Currently sitting just one win outside the top eight, the veteran forward emphasised the need for his side to deliver on their individual preparation throughout the week to ensure another performance like the weekend was repeated.
"Those personal milestones and all that sort of stuff doesn't mean much at the moment; it's just about getting the win for the team," he said.
"We had to have some honest conversations in and around our review because what we delivered last Friday wasn't good enough.
"To be honest, I don't know where it came from. There were no signs at training so, for me, it's an individual preparation piece. There's a lot of focus on making sure that, individually, we're ready to play this week and not replicate that performance.
"It comes down to each person going out there and doing their job for the team," he added.
Benji and the brave: Marshall and Lawrence ready for 250th
"There's always changes in teams over the years and we've seen changes in coaches and management, but at the end of the day you've just got to turn up and do what your job is. That's all you can worry about. If you continue to prepare to the best of your ability and do your job, while you're not always going to have a great game, you won't have the inconsistencies and the ups and downs.
"If you have the majority of the team doing that then that's what's going to produce a consistent performance."
Despite going down when the two sides met earlier this year, Wests Tigers face the Knights on Saturday with a good recent record — having won each of the last three games between the two in Newcastle while they've also scored 20 points in each of their last seven matches against the Novacastrians.
Match: Knights v Wests Tigers
Round 13 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle