Saints star Lawes bids to keep getting better as he looks forward to fourth World Cup

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Courtney Lawes is desperate to get even better before he considers retiring from rugby.

The 34-year-old was named in England's 33-man squad on Monday, meaning he will travel to a fourth World Cup - two more than any other Saints player in history.

Lawes will look to help his country to glory in France before returning to Saints to try to steer them to silverware.

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He has become a key figure for club and country since making his debut for the black, green and gold against Esher in National League One back in 2007.

Courtney Lawes (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Courtney Lawes (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Courtney Lawes (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

And Lawes feels there is still plenty left in the tank as he aims to win trophies and improve his performance levels.

"I am just looking to enjoy my last year or two playing rugby and hopefully winning a bit of gold," Lawes said.

"I just want to feel like I have been the best player I can be before I retire.

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"To be honest, I don't think I ever will feel I have, but that's what I want to be honest, rather than accolades.

"Obviously it would be amazing to win a World Cup, a Premiership, a European Cup, but it's not entirely in my hands, that.

"But what is in my hands is my ability to go out there and express myself on the pitch."

Reflecting on his career so far, Lawes told BBC Sport: "I burst onto the scene pretty quickly and then definitely plateaued a bit and got a little bit lazy through the middle of my career.

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"But since then from 26 or 27 I have really been able to kick on.

"I have really tried to learn everything I can, about the game, about myself, and about how you perform consistently.

"And I think that's really helped me push on and be the player that I am, which is consistent, and then from the big games you try and play out of your skin."

Lawes says he has been able to become far more consistent with his performances in recent years.

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"It's night and day especially in terms of consistency of performance," he added.

"When I was younger I was much more up and down as a lot of young people are, because you have to learn what makes you tick.

"But now I feel like I have got a lot of strings to my bow, so it doesn't matter exactly where the game goes, I can always have a bit of an impact."

Lawes has overcome injury problems to ensure he remains a main man for Saints and England.

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Last season, he was only able to make seven appearances for his club.

"If we look back to last summer I was probably playing my best rugby, and then to have four injuries in one season and just not be able to stay on the park was obviously very tough, but you get through it," Lawes said.

"Hopefully, I am out of the back of it now and I am feeling quite confident going into the game.

"I was always pretty determined to get back but you never can be too sure, especially when you get a bit older."

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Lawes has racked up 264 appearances for Saints and he will play his 98th Test for England on Saturday as he starts at six in the World Cup warm-up match against Wales at Twickenham.

"It really does fly by," Lawes said.

"All your seasons and all your pre-seasons almost blend into one and it's really hard to differentiate between them.

"You just get through. You just do your best and work your hardest.

"I think because you are always, or you should be, striving to get better, to do more, to be a better player, it just kind of pushes you on and keeps you going year after year.

"And eventually you end up 34 years old at your fourth World Cup and just hoping to be a part of it."