How Bradford Bulls helped Michael Lawrence find his enjoyment for rugby league again: ‘It’s really given me a massive lease of life’

Drew Darbyshire
Michael Lawrence Bradford Bulls Alamy

Bradford Bulls forward Michael Lawrence at the 2024 Championship season launch - Alamy

Jamaica international Michael Lawrence says Bradford Bulls have helped him ‘find his enjoyment for rugby league again’ following his move to Odsal.

The 33-year-old forward left Super League side Huddersfield Giants ahead of last season following 16 seasons of service to his hometown club, where he made 324 appearances.

Lawrence joined Championship big-hitters Bradford on a two-year contract, with the first year being via a loan agreement and the second a permanent deal.

The powerhouse prop fell down the pecking order at the Giants, being in and out the team towards the end of his time at the John Smith’s Stadium, which prompted his move to the Bulls.

After playing 19 games for Bradford last season and combining his playing duties with becoming a teacher on a part-time basis, Lawrence isn’t even thinking about retirement just yet after rediscovering his passion for the game.

“100 per cent I’m still feeling good,” he told Love Rugby League at the 2024 Championship season launch.

“At the start of last season I had a big hamstring injury which put me out for about three months but from June onwards I didn’t miss a game in the running until the end of the year.

“If I’m being honest, I had the most fun I’ve had in years playing with the Bulls last year and I really enjoyed it, so it’s really given me a massive lease of life going into this year and I’m just enjoying my rugby league again.”

So what has made Lawrence rediscover find his enjoyment and burning passion for playing rugby league again?

“I just think it’s playing to be fair,” he told Love Rugby League.

“In my final year at Huddersfield and the main reason why I left the club with still having a year to run on my contract was that I was in and out of the side, I missed the (Challenge) Cup final (in 2022), obviously being 18th man and things like that, and after being there for 16 years at Huddersfield and being in and out of the side when I’d been used for 15 years playing every single week and every minute of every game pretty much… It was very difficult for me.

“So coming to the Bulls last year and feeling valued, I kind of feel like I’d lost that sense of value – not as a whole at Huddersfield – I felt like I was valued for what I represented for the club, but not so much on the field value anymore.

“As a player, you work so hard, you train so hard, you put so much effort in, you have to feel valued on the pitch and I feel I got that value back when I came to Bradford. They really valued me on the field and off the field as well, and that sense of value and real sense of purpose was something I really enjoyed having back and I felt like I found myself again.”

Michael Lawrence full of optimism for Bradford Bulls’ new era under new coach Eamon O’Carroll

Eamon O'Carroll Bradford Bulls Alamy Bradford Bulls’ new head coach Eamon O’Carroll – Alamy

The Bulls, who finished third in the Championship table last season, are preparing to enter a new era under new head coach Eamon O’Carroll, who has taken the reins at Odsal on a three-year contract.

Lawrence says he is excited to see the heights the Bulls can reach over the next couple of years under O’Carroll, who has spent several years as Steve McNamara’s assistant at Catalans Dragons.

“We obviously had a good season last year, our best finish for seven years,” Lawrence added in conversation with Love Rugby League.

“We managed to retain pretty much 90 per cent of that squad and add some quality players as well, so we’ll be looking to improve on what we did last year, that’s for sure.

“Eamon is a great bloke, he’s brought in some great ideas and a real camaraderie and I’m excited by his fresh new ideas.

“We’ve also kept on Greeny (Lee Greenwood) and Nobby (Brian Noble) as well who are a great duo and helped us get success towards the back end of the year so I feel spoilt, we’ve almost got three head coaches at the moment, obviously Eamon makes the final decisions on everything but they’re all on the field every night with us in training and it’s working really well for us at the moment, so we’re all really excited and really looking forward to the year.”

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