GIANTS chief Jon Sharp is confident rising star Michael Lawrence is ready to take the next big step up the professional rugby league ladder.
The 18-year-old Huddersfield-born centre will again be in the Giants’ line-up for tomorrow’s crunch Carnegie Challenge Cup fifth-round clash at Hull KR (1.15) after producing another excellent display in last Saturday’s 36-34 defeat against Warrington at the Millennium Stadium.
The New Craven Park clash is being screened live on BBC2 in front of a national television audience of millions.
But after such an accomplished tryscoring performance on the big Millennium Stadium stage a week ago, Sharp is confident former Newsome Panthers youngster Lawrence will again rise to the occasion on the Challenge Cup front.
“Michael has been absolutely magnificent for us”, said Sharp.
“I gave him his first-team start this year against St Helens two months ago, and he just keeps getting stronger and stronger. I think he’s amazed everyone with how well he’s stepped up.
“I’ve no doubt that if he’d been at one of the top four clubs, the hype surrounding him would have been fantastic.
“It seems like the bigger the stage, the more Michael is able to rise to the occasion, as he showed against Warrington at the Millennium Stadium a week ago.
“He didn’t seem fazed by it at all, and it was quite some achievement for him to keep a world-class centre like Matt King as quiet as he did. That takes some doing.
“And I have no doubt he will give another good account of himself again tomorrow.
“This is another massive game, in front of a national audience, but I’m sure he’ll be able to handle it.
“I know it’s still early days in his career, but I do genuinely believe Michael has the ability to achieve whatever he wants to achieve in this game.
“He has a great attitude, and already has a lot of physical presence for such a young man.
“It would be fantastic to think it can be done on the back of a win for us and we can look forward to the draw for the quarter-final on Monday.
“Hull KR are a good side, and we’ll need to be at our best to beat them. But I know we can do it, and I also know how much of a boost that would be for the rest of our Super League season.”