When former Warrior Corey Lawrie introduced his boy Jayton to rugby league on the frozen fields of Doncaster in England’s north as a four-year-old, he never imagined they would play premier grade together.
Yet that scenario unfolded last weekend when dad answered an SOS and his teenage son debuted for their beloved Hornby Panthers against Riccarton in the opening round of the Canterbury Rugby League premiership.
Corey reckoned he’s the lightest second rower in the competition at 88kg; Jayton made the step from captaining the club’s under-18 team, scoring a brace on the wing during the 40-6 victory over the Knights.
They combined on the right edge, a security blanket for both after they were unexpectedly thrust into the top line-up by Hornby coach Jed Lawrie, Corey’s brother.
“I was quite happy to just play Bs this year but Jed was a bit short of second rowers. I’m 41, I feel like 81,” Lawrie joked ahead of a round two clash with the Papanui Tigers.
“I did an eight-week challenge a couple of months ago. I lost 7kg and I can’t seem to put it back on.”
Lawrie played four games off the bench as a utility player for the Warriors in 2007, before heading to England the following year.
He resumed his playing career at the Panthers when he returned home in 2009.
“I’m not embarrassing myself yet, when that happens I’ll pull the pin. At the moment I’m still competing pretty well.”
Jayton, meanwhile, was rewarded for a strong off-season.
“It’s always good to see your son achieve something he’s been aiming for. He’s worked hard for the opportunity,” said Corey, who played down his parental guardian role.
“You always worry you’re going to have a dust up with someone if they rark him (Jayton) up too much, but he can look after himself, the kid.”
Jayton was rapt with his debut, and said dad helped calm the nerves.
“Having him out there helped, he gave me a bit of ball too with us being on the same edge.”
Jayton only had one clear memory of starting out in Doncaster: “All I remember is the snow really,” he said.
While happy to make his premier grade debut, Jayton said the under-18s, who play on Monday night, were still a priority so he would have to manage his workload.
“I might miss a few premier games to help my body out, I still want to help that (under-18) side out,” he said.
Papanui defaulted to Halswell last weekend, but Canterbury Rugby League chief executive Duane Fyfe believed the Tigers would front on Saturday.
“I know they’ve got
some challenges player-numbers wise but they’re confident they’ll be able to put a team out,” he said.
Corey felt for Papanui’s plight.
“That’s the state of rugby league at the moment, everyone is a bit light on numbers these days. I’m playing because our numbers were a wee bit dicey.”