- Lock demands better from himself against Argentina
- “As you get older, you realise you don’t want to waste time. You’d rather see how good you can actually be” – Lawes
Courtney Lawes’ undulating journey in Test rugby came full circle on Saturday, the Northampton Saints lock facing Australia at Twickenham for his 23rd cap four years after making his full international bow there in a clash against the same opponents.
And while Lawes is adamant he can offer more to England’s cause in this weekend’s encounter with Argentina, he also says his form is on a par with the best it has ever been.
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By his own admission, the 24 year-old is a more rounded player – and is determined to take this chance at the highest level after a series of injury problems over the past 18 months.
“I was a pretty rash, confident young lad back in 2009,” he explained. “I’m still pretty similar in some respects – I’m not that old yet.
“I work a lot harder now, though. The game has changed and I’ve had to change and improve with it. At the time, everything seemed to come pretty easy to me and then I had a few injuries and set-backs for a few years. Hopefully now I can stay fit and reach my potential.
“As you get older, you realise you don’t want to waste time. You’d rather crack on and see how good you can actually be.”
Now a veteran of 122 Saints matches, Lawes forced his way into Stuart Lancaster’s starting side for the opening QBE International on the back of some outstanding domestic displays.
Photo: Getty Images
And although the six foot seven specimen does not describe himself as a vocal leader at club level, he prides himself on “setting an example” through consistently robust tackling and carrying.
In fact, Lawes has been an effervescent presence throughout this campaign so far, having added lineout calling for another string to his bow.
Form-wise, he feels close to hitting the heights of the 2010 autumn Tests – during which he started consecutive games for Martin Johnson’s side against New Zealand, Australia, Samoa and South Africa.
“I’m in a similar place to where I was in the 2010 autumn series,” he added. “Obviously then there was a different structure in the side so there wasn’t too much of a flip from Saints to England.
“As soon as I can get used to this structure, the better I can play – Stuart has brought us forward really well.
“[On Saturday] I didn’t make half as many tackles as I usually do or carry half as much as I usually do. That’s to do with me reading the game and the systems a bit better, so hopefully I’ll be able to do my usual thing this weekend.”