He spent over a year on the sidelines due to a degenerative disc and after dipping his toes back in the water, Manly prop Brenton Lawrence wants to spearhead his side’s revival.
Lawrence pulled on a Sea Eagles jersey for the first time since round one last year in Monday’s 36-22 loss to Wests Tigers in what was a promising first up showing.
At times during the last 12 months, the 31-year-old’s career appeared on the brink after undergoing surgery to have an artificial disc inserted into his lower back.
Lawrence said he was left “walking like a zombie” after going under the knife and given his age and the massive turnover in personnel at Manly during the off-season, his future looked far from assured.
“It means a lot,” Lawrence said of his return.
“I liken it in a sense to a debut, you spend a lot of time thinking about that moment.
“And then through the recovery, every time I was doing something with the rehab guys or on my own, I was thinking about getting back on the field.”
He returned to the paddock via the NSW Cup in the last month of the 2015 season but was held back from first grade until last week for fear of a recurrence.
He eventually made it back to the NRL on Monday, returning in emphatic fashion, making 114 metres from 11 carries and 23 tackles off the bench against the Tigers at Brookvale Oval.
Now Lawrence wants to pick up where he left off after a breakout 2014 that saw him invited to a Queensland Emerging Origin camp and selected in the Prime Minister’s XIII.
“I want to be a leader of our pack and make sure we move forward in a positive light,” Lawrence said.
“We’re a new side and we need to find a bit of composure and structure around each other.”