Wests Tigers Life Member Chris Lawrence has today announced his retirement from the NRL with his 15-year career set to come to an end at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
The 31-year-old will retire as one of only three players to feature in 250 games for the club, and is currently equal with Benji Marshall as the club’s all-time top try-scorer.
A local junior of Wests Tigers having played his junior football with Eagle Vale St. Andrews, Lawrence remains the youngest player in club history to make his NRL debut in 2006 — starring in an upset win over the Brisbane Broncos at just 17 years and 283 days.
Despite his age, Lawrence would soon cement himself as a regular in the first-grade side and one of the most promising youngsters in the game.
He earned representative honours with selection in the Prime Minister’s tour of Papua New Guinea in 2007 before also being selected in the train-on squads for City Origin and the New South Wales Blues in the coming years.
A potent try-scorer at club level, Lawrence made his international debut for Australia at the 2010 Four Nations — scoring on debut against New Zealand.
He would go on to play six Tests in total for the green and gold, having featured with the international side again in 2011.
Overcoming numerous injuries and having successfully transitioned into the back-row, Lawrence captained Wests Tigers for the first time in 2014 and would soon return back to the representative arena — captaining City Origin to victory in 2016.
Inducted as a Life Member in 2017, Lawrence cemented himself in Wests Tigers history by reaching the 250-game milestone for the club earlier this year alongside Benji Marshall — becoming just the third player to reach the mark behind Robbie Farah (277 games).
Wests Tigers Chair Lee Hagipantelis praised Lawrence’s long-standing service to the club.
“On behalf of all at Wests Tigers, I’d like to congratulate Chris on what has been a superb and terrific rugby league career,” Hagipantelis said.
“Chris has shown remarkable resilience to achieve all that he has in our game, and he will undoubtedly go down as one of the finest men ever to play for Wests Tigers.
“Chris has embodied and displayed the core values of Wests Tigers in all that he does, and his loyalty to the club will be a lasting inspiration for many years to come.”
Wests Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe paid credit to Lawrence’s unwavering passion for Wests Tigers and his service to the club.
“Chris is a truly remarkable player in the history of Wests Tigers and I have felt privileged to watch him play his career at this club,” Pascoe said.
“He has always carried himself with the utmost professionalism and class on and off the field, and is a true model for every single person in the game of rugby league.
“Chris has played an exceptional role in setting the standards for what we want Wests Tigers to be known for as a club, and I cannot thank him and his family enough for his contribution.”
Chris has played an exceptional role in setting the standards for what we want Wests Tigers to be known for as a club.Justin Pascoe Wests Tigers CEO
Wests Tigers Coach Michael Maguire said Lawrence’s legacy would extend to the future generations of the club.
“There’s a lot that I admire about Chris, from his toughness to his character on and off the field,” Maguire said. “In doing so, Chris has set the standard for what local juniors of Wests Tigers should aspire to be.
“To have played the entirety of his 15-year career with Wests Tigers, Chris has shown tremendous determination and drive in all that he does, and I am sure the future generations of this great club will always look up to that.”