Mallinder salutes Saints lock Lawes

Courtney Lawes has been in fine form this season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Courtney Lawes has been in fine form this season (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
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Jim Mallinder has hailed the all-round excellence of Courtney Lawes during the current campaign.

Lawes has been in fine form throughout a season in which he has played 19 times for his club.

The 28-year-old was named in the Premiership team of the season and was nominated for the England player of the year award, having played a key role in the Six Nations triumph.

Lawes has done enough to be selected by the British & Irish Lions for the summer tour of New Zealand.

But first he is setting about helping Saints to qualify for next season's Champions Cup.

The influential lock made a huge tackle that was key in earning a 21-15 victory against Connacht last Saturday.

And Lawes will now set his sights on seeing off Stade Français in the Champions Cup play-off final at Franklin's Gardens on Friday night.

"We've really seen Courtney's game really grow," Mallinder said.

"Defensively, he's always been capable of the big hit and we've seen that over the years.

"He's been excellent in the set piece, lineout in particular, but we've really seen his all-round game grow.

"His carrying in close, heavy traffic has been excellent.

"He's always got that ability to get us on the front foot but he's also recognised where space is and he has the ability to pass the ball to players in a better position than him."