Lawrence to give draft “one more go” in new-look role

AFTER being overlooked at the end of his top-age campaign last year, Giants Academy product Luke Lawrence is preparing to give the AFL Draft “one more go” in 2023.

The 18-year-old comes with a plan and expects to put his name forward for draft contention thanks to a revised role, devised by academy coach Tadhg Kennelly.

“I want to give it one more go and really focus on (being drafted) this year,” Lawrence said. “Tadhg approached me in preseason and said ‘You’re playing off half-back this year’. So I was like ‘Yeah, that’s pretty cool.’

“I played half-back during juniors and development so I’m used to playing that role and the aspects you need to play it… I’ve been working on my kicking, trying to get that a lot better which will be really handy to come off half-back and be an elite kicker.

“I love watching Adam Saad and Nick Hind and the style they bring to the game. Being that attacking defender and having the freedom to play where you want around the ground and being an elite kicker. They’re the type of players I’ll look up to this year.

“It’s good for the 18-year-olds to come through and get their midfield time too, because I got it last year, so now I’ll show a bit of versatility as a player.”

>> Ones to watch: Allies

Lawrence’s work as a hard-running onballer saw him not only become a key cog for the orange team, but also earn representative honours with the Allies. There, he played all four Under 18 National Championship games.

Now, making that squad again is part of a clear set of goals Lawrence has mapped out for 2023, though a range of possibilities may lie ahead.

“Personally I want to play Allies again, play a couple more VFL games and then hopefully the mid-season draft comes around and I get picked up,” Lawrence said. “If not, there’s the rookie draft at the end of the year so we’ll see how it goes.

“Last year I probably had one of the most fun years I’ve had playing footy so as an over-ager and a leader this year I want to try and (provide) that to the younger boys and make sure they get the same exposure that I got last year.”

Though Lawrence has already put the wheels in motion on his grand draft plan, not everything is going according to script. A hamstring niggle which has plagued him for some time lingers, and he hasn’t yet been able to train with the senior Giants.

Nonetheless, he promises to be ready for Round 1 of the Coates Talent League, having been put through his paces in preseason testing and trial games.

>> Squad: Giants U18 Boys Academy

“I’ve been pretty unfortunate,” he said. “Last year during the National Championships I copped a little bit of a hamstring injury and it’s just been sticking around, so I’ve just been trying to deal with that during preseason. But it’s getting better and I’m almost at full strength.

“I think we have a really strong team this year so we want to come away with a couple more wins than last year.”

In terms of what Lawrence will offer in season 2023, much of the same hard running and effort are sure to be on show. As a “massive” Swans fan, the Sydney-turned-Wagga native is looking to channel his inner Chad Warner on-field.

Like the West Australian star, he’s also willing to move interstate to achieve his dream of reaching the elite level.

“I’m a really good runner,” Lawrence said of his strengths. “Last year in third and fourth quarters I found that next level with gut running. I’ve always had pretty good speed off the mark and good agility to get around.

“Then probably my inside work as well and competitiveness. I don’t like to lose a lot so I’ll just make sure that if the ball’s in there I’m always the one to win it.

“If I get the (AFL) opportunity I’ll take it with both hands without a doubt. It would be pretty exciting to move interstate as well and start a new life, I’d love it. Anything that comes I’ll take it with two hands and go, but we’ll see how it pans out.”

>> Top 10s: Giants Academy preseason testing

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