At just 21 years of age, new Sea Eagles forward Shaun Lane wants to 'settle down'.
Life is good again off the field for the former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and NZ Warriors back-rower.
A fresh start at Manly, living with his family, and being nearby his friends has seen Lane smile again.
Three clubs in less than three years caused Lane some heartache and pain.
“I’m only 21, but it feels like I have been around for a couple of years now,’’ Lane said.
“I’m looking to settle down now and find a spot I can make my own. Just find a good spot here at Manly on the edge. It definitely seems like a good club to do it.
“There are good coaches here and they told me what they were looking for. I’m happy to try and provide that for them.”
In Manly, Lane is also trying to kick start his NRL career again after making his first grade debut for the Bulldogs against the Gold Coast in June, 2015. He has signed with the Sea Eagles for two years.
Lane finished 2015 with 14 NRL games to his name and was the Bulldogs’ Rookie of the Year.
“From where I was at the start of that pre-season, I was long odds to come into the team,’’ Lane recalled.
“To even debut, yet alone play 14 games was amazing. A couple of injuries later, and some Origin duty for Josh Jackson, (Coach) Des Hasler gave me a crack in the NRL.
“My brother, Brett, played one NRL game for the Bulldogs. Everyone always told me that if you get a crack at the NRL, you have got to make the most of it.
"With Tony Williams tearing his pec during that year, there was a bit of a gap there for me. I tried to make that spot on the bench my own. A couple of games later, I was man of the match and that cemented the spot in the team for me.
“I just tried to provide a bit of energy for the team and luckily enough I got a couple of tries, and it was a good first year.”
Lane was entitled to feel good about the 2016 season ahead. However, things changed dramatically when, in early April this year, he was swapped in a player transfer with the Warriors’ Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
He ended up playing one NRL game for the Warriors in round nine against St George-Illawarra Dragons in what was a long, and lonely, stint in New Zealand. It was a huge shock for Lane.
“I had just turned 21 and never had moved out of home. I had always lived in the same spot my whole life. It was a big decision but I felt I needed a change of scenery. A new chance to show what I was capable of,’’ Lane recalls.
“Jeff Robson helped me out enormously in terms of life outside of footy. I lived with him and he got me out of the house and kept me occupied to keep my mind off football.
“I was used to being so close to my family and friends. I missed the little things like going to the movies with my mates. That was the toughest thing, being so far away in another country.”
The 198cm, 110kg Lane finished 2016 playing in the Intrust Super Cup for the Warriors. With a keen desire to return home, his manager shopped him around. The Sea Eagles came knocking.
“Manly must have liked what they saw of me in my 14 NRL games. When I first spoke to (Coach) Trent Barrett and (Head of Football) Bob Fulton, they were very genuine and that is what I was looking for. It was definitely a good opportunity,'' he added.
"There is a bit of a free spot there on the edge now with Jamie Buhrer gone. They seem to like tall, rangy back-rowers, so it suits me.
“I've just been getting stuck in to training. Every session is intense. You definitely have to be switched on and keep trying to improve. It is only early in the pre-season and everything is about getting your body in the best physical shape.
“For me as a back-rower, it is good to have someone like (Assistant Coach) John Cartwright here. He was a world class back-rower in his day and has plenty of knowledge.
“There are also some very big boys here to work with in Addin Fonua-Blake, Brenton Lawrence, and Willis Meehan.
“It’s kind of like when I was at the Bulldogs, training with David Klemmer and Sam Kasiano. Come game time when you get a couple of the smaller teams running at you, you feel comfortable and ready to go. It definitely helps you out trying to tackle those blokes every day.”
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