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Michael Lawrence: Huddersfield Giants back row aiming to help make rugby league a more inclusive sport | Rugby League News

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The full interview with Huddersfield club captain Lawrence will be shown ahead of the Giants’ Super League match against St Helens on Thursday; watch live on Sky Sports Arena and Mix from 7pm

Last Updated: 22/04/21 6:01am

Michael Lawrence is the subject of a wide-ranging feature ahead of Huddersfield's clash with St Helens

Michael Lawrence is the subject of a wide-ranging feature ahead of Huddersfield’s clash with St Helens

In August last year, Michael Lawrence joined Ashton Golding and Jordan Turner in opening up on the racism they had experienced during their rugby league careers.

The powerful and revealing interviews from the trio made many in a sport that prides itself on being inclusive and open to all realise there were still serious issues affecting participants at all levels which needed tackling.

The intervening eight months have seen much work done, including the launch of the RFL’s ‘Tackle It’ programme to combat discrimination and the governing body putting together an inclusion board to oversee their plans.

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After joining the RFL’s inclusion board, Michael Lawrence explains how he plans to help make positive changes within the game of rugby league

After joining the RFL’s inclusion board, Michael Lawrence explains how he plans to help make positive changes within the game of rugby league

Huddersfield Giants back row Lawrence subsequently accepted an invitation to join the inclusion board and, in a feature which will be screened as part of Sky Sports‘ live coverage of the Giants’ Super League clash with St Helens on Thursday, he spoke of the impact sharing his experiences had.

“I remember being asked to do the interview with Sky and I didn’t think much would come from it, but since then it has been a bit of a whirlwind,” Lawrence said.

“The ‘Tackle It’ plan has been put in place, I got asked to be part of the inclusion board which I was happy to accept, and since then a lot of work has gone into the campaign and hopefully making positive strides in rugby league.

“The reactions were mixed. There were some positives, some negative feedback and a lot of misunderstanding in there. That, for me, was the key to know more work needed to be done.

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“At the time, the players were very supportive, and everyone was keen to help in any way they could. The support from the club, and friends and family, has been massive. Everybody is behind it and happy to help in any way they can.”

Lawrence’s role on the board is an advisory one, with the group meeting quarterly to measure the progress being made by the working team underneath them which goes out into communities, along with suggesting new ideas and strategies to combat discrimination.

The Huddersfield-born Jamaica international is particularly keen to ensure rugby league continues to thrive in its heartland areas and shows itself as providing a welcoming environment for all whatever their background.

“There are areas where we feel the game should have been thriving where it hasn’t, and it’s going to be important to get into those communities and bring those people towards rugby league,” Lawrence said.

We want to grow it in the areas it is played and make sure everybody knows rugby league is, and always will be, open to everybody.

Michael Lawrence

“That can only benefit the sport if we’re getting a new fanbase, participation and maybe even new clubs from those areas.

“That’s the aim, to make the sport even more inclusive than it already is and grow the sport. We want to grow it in the areas it is played and make sure everybody knows rugby league is, and always will be, open to everybody.”

Lawrence’s leadership abilities have been recognised by the Giants as well, with head coach Ian Watson making the 31-year-old club captain for the 2021 season which sees him overseeing the off-field environment and helping the club’s younger players.

The former Thornhill Trojans and Newsome Panthers junior has been part of his hometown club since joining the scholarship programme aged 14 and reached the milestone of 300 appearances for them in last Friday’s 25-24 defeat away to Hull Kingston Rovers.

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After making 300 Super League appearance for Huddersfield Giants, captain Michael Lawrence says lifting the League Leaders’ Shield in 2013 is his career highlight

After making 300 Super League appearance for Huddersfield Giants, captain Michael Lawrence says lifting the League Leaders’ Shield in 2013 is his career highlight

Being part of Huddersfield’s 2013 League Leaders’ Shield triumph remains the highlight of his time with the Giants and Lawrence is determined to get his hands on another trophy before he hangs up his boots.

“Every year that goes by, you realise how special it was we did that in 2013 and to be a part of that is something I will be very proud of for a long time,” Lawrence said.

“It was the first time in 51 years we had finished top of the league and it’s what motivated me every season, every single day and every training session.

“I want to lift another piece of silverware with this club and that’s what I’m striving to do every year.”

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