Karl Lawton couldn't hide his grin even if he tried.
Released by the Warriors after suffering an off season achilles injury in which he underwent surgery last December, Lawton joined the Sea Eagles in March following the start of the Telstra Premiership season.
“If you had a crystal ball and told me at the start of 2021 that I be at Manly, and then playing finals footy…it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t be happier,’’ Lawton said.
A specialist hooker, Lawton made a successful return in Round 11 against Parramatta in a memorable Club debut for the Sea Eagles, scoring a try and making five breaks off the interchange bench.
“It was a perfect debut for me in the Sea Eagles jersey. A really special moment after what had happened,’’ Lawton said.
The 26-year-old was then rewarded by Coach Des Hasler with a starting position in the back-row for the next six matches.
Lawton’s versatility became a real asset for the Sea Eagles, coming off the interchange bench to play second-row and hooker.
His only game as a starting hooker came against Melbourne Storm in the opening week of the finals following an injury to regular number nine, Lachlan Croker.
The hard-working Lawton ended up playing 16 games for Manly.
“I’ve got the luxury of some NRL experience behind me in playing several positions,’’ Lawton added.
I feel that is my best attribute and the best way I can deliver for this team
“I felt so welcome at Manly, from the players to the staff. There is a great group of guys here. Everyone has a big personality and they bring something different to the table…that’s the biggest thing here, on and off the field.
“We enjoy each other’s company and enjoy a laugh, so it all helps in bringing us closer together.”
Sea Eagles vice-captain and lock Jake Trbojevic said Lawton made quite an impression.
“He was great for us. Karl provided a lot of versatility off the bench and played a number of vital roles,’’ Trbojevic said.
“Karl even jumped in the middle for some periods in matches. He has had a great off season and I’m expecting more good things from him this year.”
Away from rugby league, Lawton enjoys adventure and cooking. He recently completed a Diploma of Business with the Elite Athletes Business School.
“I love getting out and about, going to restaurants, fishing, surfing, and being active,’’ Lawton said.
“We have got a good little surf crew here at the Sea Eagles and we try to surf once or twice a week during the season if we can.
“It helps me mentally and freshens me up. It has been working for me and I will keep doing it.
“Cooking is a real hobby of mine that I stumbled across about a year or two ago.
“I love the catch and cook theory. I love spearfishing and fishing. I try to go out and get some crabs or fish, and love cooking it up and making some good recipes.
“It’s now a big passion. I like to do it as part of life after footy. I wouldn’t mind even going down the avenue of having a cooking show. It would be something I like to get into.”