They don’t make them any bigger than Shaun Lane and after the season the Parramatta backrower has enjoyed it’s fair to say they don’t make them much better either.
- Parramatta backrower Shaun Lane has enjoyed the best season of his career in 2022
- The Eels giant was best on ground in the preliminary final win over North Queensland and is close to a certainty for Australia’s World Cup squad
- Lane shapes as a key man for Parramatta in their grand final clash with the Panthers
When the Eels’ grand final backrower describes why he’s enjoyed the best year of his NRL career he makes it sound so simple.
“I don’t go into the game thinking of just doing what’s enough, it’s about doing your role regardless of how you feel,” Lane said.
“You always have a job to do in any situation you might find yourself in.
“There’s always something you need to be doing, so that’s all I’m ever thinking about.”
Take his charge down on Chad Townsend last Friday, for example. With the Eels leading by four and the Cowboys on the attack in the dying stages of the preliminary final, Townsend went to poke a kick over for an unmarked Kyle Feldt.
It would have levelled the scores at best and condemned Parramatta to a last-second defeat at worst if Lane hadn’t made a play and tipped Townsend’s kick.
“In that moment, my role was to charge the ball down and luckily I’ve got freakishly long arms so I could get a fingertip to it,” Lane said.
“I didn’t get enough on it, but it fell right into Dylan Brown’s lap. The relief was unbelievable.”
Simple, right? Lane makes it sound like anybody could do it.
But not everybody can be 6’6 and 110 kilograms like Lane is, or move like a fella half that size like Lane does, or have hands that can throw passes other players wouldn’t even think of like Lane did earlier in that very same game.
Watch that one again, because it’s better than you remember. Lane doesn’t know if he could see Maika Sivo when he fired this one off. The angles didn’t quite allow it. But he trusted Sivo would be there, and that was enough.
“You can be the biggest and most athletic person in the world but everyone has to throw a pass here and there. I’ve always tried to build those skills into my game, ever since I was young,” Lane said.
“I’ve always had a lot of faith and confidence in my own ability. I know what I can do. Brad (Arthur) encourages you to back your skill and back your ability. That’s what I try to do every time.
“I’ve performed in patches before, it’s just been getting myself in the right headspace to do it all the time and finding myself in the right position with the right people around me.”
That’s how Lane, at his fourth club in his eighth year of first grade, has become a hard-charging, flick-pass throwing, try-saving, preliminary final winning, wheeling and dealing son of a gun and you can bet your last dollar Penrith will have a hard time keeping the big man down in the grand final.
It’s not quite right to say Lane’s form this season has come from nowhere. He’s always had this kind of football inside of him.
But where it used to appear for brief patches when he was with Canterbury, New Zealand, Manly or in his first few years at Parra, now it’s happening all the time.
“I’m getting a few more opportunities with the ball, playing with a bit more confidence. I’ve worked on myself a lot, I worked on my game a lot and everything is coming together in a good climax for me,” Lane said.
“I just got my life in a good position. I understand what I value, what makes me happy. I’ve gone about living my life in the most healthy way for me, doing what makes me the happiest.
“It’s the same as any job, when you’re happy you do your best work and live your best life.”
Part of Lane’s best life should include a green and gold jersey. After a big finish to the regular season, he was considered a chance for Australia’s World Cup squad but given what he’s produced the last he can just about book his ticket to England.
But there’s one more job to do first – breaking Parramatta’s 36-year grand final drought when they meet the Panthers on Sunday.
Lane was one of the most popular players at Monday’s fan day and he’s keen to reward the long-suffering blue and gold faithful with the premiership that’s eluded them for so many years.
“It didn’t feel like we’d made the grand final after the prelim because we were surrounded by North Queensland fans and we didn’t celebrate it as much at the time,” Lane said.
“But coming back after a few days away it’s a massive buzz. There’s a couple thousand people here just to watch us train, the buzz is huge.
“They believe. They have faith in us, and we have to reward it. Parra fans have been waiting for a long time for something good to happen.”