Dragons prop Blake Lawrie has set his sights on earning a State of Origin debut in 2024, but the hardworking middle concedes that won’t be possible if his team finishes near the bottom of the table again.
Lawrie, 27, is coming off his strongest season in the NRL after claiming the Dragons Medal last year as the club’s best player.
In a year where not much went right for St George Illawarra, Lawrie carried the team on his back, often punching out huge minutes when they were missing troops in the middle without shirking any of his responsibilities.
It’s that hard work that will impress new Blues coach Michael Maguire, who could be tempted to bring in a few fresh faces in a bid to end Queensland’s recent dominance.
“I felt like I took my game to another level last year, and I want to take it to another level again. I want to be in the representative conversation,” he said.
“But first and foremost, I want to play finals footy at the Dragons and we have to be consistent and winning games. That’s what we’re going to be doing, and we’re confident in that.
“Everyone who goes out and plays for their club wants to reach their potential and play the game at the highest levels they can. Obviously, there are high levels above just the NRL. That is the State of Origin arena and the representative arena.
“Obviously, I’ve got a lot of hard work and a lot of consistent to play before I get there. But first and foremost, my full focus is here at the Dragons and my teammates and supporting each other and our staff and our coach and coaches and performance staff.
“If we’re winning games and playing consistent footy, I believe that will take care of itself.”
Winning games is something the Dragons didn’t do last year, with the Red V finishing second last on the back of just five victories.
Rankings don’t always matter given Stefano Utoikamanu made his Origin debut even though the Tigers finished with the wooden spoon.
“I’ve obviously set myself goals and I would love to be in a representative conversation. But at the same time, I’m not going to be the representative conversation if we come last or second last again,” Lawrie said.
“So first and foremost I have to play consistent footy for the Dragons and win games and then get in the challenge for the top four and top eight. Hopefully, it takes care of it.”
The Dragons have already been written off heading into the new season under Shane Flanagan, but Lawrie is confident they can overcome a string of pre-season setbacks to be more competitive.
“People might think that we’re kidding ourselves, but it doesn’t matter. We believe in our four walls and the people that we’ve got,” he said.
“Yeah, we’ve had some rough recruitment things not go our way, but it is what it is. Whoever Flanno gets, we have full trust in Flanno. He’s only going to add to what we’re building here.
“We’ve seen how our training has come over the last three months compared to where it started, so it’s exciting times ahead.”
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au