Lawrence’s unlucky break ignites back-row battle
Veteran backrower Chris Lawrence has suffered a "badly broken jaw" in a huge blow to the Wests Tigers two weeks out from NRL season kick-off. .
The injury was the result of a training mishap yesterday morning in New Zealand.
The Tigers are in Whangarei, a regional town 160km north of Auckland, for a training camp ahead of their only trial game against the Warriors on Saturday.
While the full extent of Lawrence's injury is still unknown, it's understood he is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines.
It is also unlikely he will be able to travel back home to Sydney immediately, such is the severity of the injury.
He is meeting with an Auckland based specialist today to evaluate his options but Lawrence will have to undergo surgery to repair his jaw in New Zealand.
The unfortunate injury is an opportunity for young forward Luke Garner, 23, to cement his spot in Michael Maguire's side.
Garner has been named to replace Lawrence on the left edge, though Maguire isn't without options in the backrow.
He could also turn to former Maroons forward Chris McQueen or Robbie Rochow, both players are with the NRL side in Whangarei.
Shifting lock Elijah Taylor from the middle out on to an edge is also an option.
New recruit and centre Paul Momirovski will be rested for Saturday's trial after he picked up a minor quad injury.
It's understood he could have otherwise played but Maguire opted not to risk him so close to the start of the season.
Instead, fellow newbie Robert Jennings has been named to replace Momirovski at left centre with Corey Thompson outside of him on the wing.
The two newcomers are locked in a battle for the left centre spot. Momirovski, who has trained there most of the preseason, has a slight edge over former Rabbitoh Jennings.
Concord cult hero Mahe Fonua has been named on an extended bench in a sign that he has slipped down the pecking order behind the likes of Jennings and Momirovski.
Maguire's spine puzzle is also becoming clearer.
As expected Robbie Farah is firming as the side's first choice hooker after he was named ahead of Jacob Liddle, who will have to bide his time in reserve grade for a little longer.
Stalwart playmaker Benji Marshall is shortening as the favourite in the race to play alongside of Luke Brooks in the halves.
Marshall and Josh Reynolds have been vocal about their intentions to wear the five-eighth jumper in 2019.
But Maguire has named Marshall at six for Saturday's trial - the first real indication that the Kiwi will start in the season opener against the Manly Sea Eagles at Leichhardt Oval.
Reynolds has been named on the bench.