If he wasn't a professional league player, it's easy to imagine Warriors' hooker Karl Lawton wandering the globe, chasing surf spots with backpackers around the world.

The 23-year-old has an adventurous streak, as shown by his travels around New Zealand during his brief stint here.

The life of a NRL player is entrenched in routine, where schedules are set by someone else, the 'job' goes far beyond eight hours a day, and demands seem greater with every year.

But Lawton has been determined to break up the pattern of training-game-recovery-training.


Lawton, whose other sporting passion is surfing, has ventured much further than the typical Australian import at the Warriors, who might not see much beyond their home suburb and Mt Smart.

"It's a good experience being here… I really love it," said Lawton. "My girlfriend comes over every couple of weeks and we go travelling as much as we can in the time off."

Aside from short hops to Omaha, Piha and Waiheke, Lawton has also explored Whangarei and the Far North.

He's spent time in the Coromandel, ventured around the Taupo area and enjoyed the sights of Queenstown, as well as team trips to Christchurch and Mt Manganui.

"It's good to experience living in another country and to mix it up," said Lawton. "It can only do good things when you are out of your comfort zone and living life a bit, making the most of the opportunity."

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The 1.85m, 93 kilo Lawton has been a squad player at the Warriors since he arrived, but has made some important contributions as a backup No 9.

In 2018 he was part of crucial wins over the Sea Eagles (Christchurch) and Cowboys (Townsville), and scored two tries against the Tigers to mark a memorable Warriors debut in round five.

And last week his crisp distribution and composure helped the Warriors to a much-needed victory over the Titans, in his first game at NRL level since July last year.

Lawton is stuck in the queue behind Issac Luke and Nathaniel Roache, but accepts his situation.

"It is tough but you just have to make your moments count," said Lawton. "When your opportunity comes you have to take it with both hands and enjoy the chance."

"I just focus on whatever footy I am playing. If I am playing NSW Cup, I need to focus on that, make sure I am chipping away and playing consistent there so that when the time comes and there is an injury or something I can step up and not be behind the eight ball."

Karl Lawton in action against the Rabbitohs last year. Photo / Photosport
Karl Lawton in action against the Rabbitohs last year. Photo / Photosport

He's also tough.

Lawton suffered a horrific, season ending leg injury on his Titans debut in 2016 (he broke his leg and dislocated an ankle), and recently endured the second shoulder reconstruction of his short career over the off-season.

"It took a week or so to get used to contact again," said Lawton. "Not too long because I have done it before. You just need to trust your physios, and especially your surgeon."

"He talked me through it. He said, 'you'll be sweet - if you just go in there and try to whack someone you'll be right'. I trusted him and turned out all good."

Lawton and the Warriors face their biggest challenge of the season so far on Saturday against a Rabbitohs machine that has shown noticeable improvement under Wayne Bennett.

South Sydney has threats across the park, though pacy Kangaroos hooker Damien Cook is key to their momentum.

"We need to shut him down," agreed Lawton. "He's a class player so the biggest thing is to keep our line pretty compressed and make sure he doesn't cut through the middle of you. It will be a big step up for us, experiencing that speed in the middle…it will test us out for sure."