Saints star Lawes relishing another tough test as England face Ireland

England have already showed that they can go into the backyard of a big team and do the business.

Saturday, 18th March 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:51 am
Courtney Lawes has been in fine form for England

Australia and Wales are among the nations who have felt the force of a reinvigorated Red Rose since Eddie Jones took charge in January, 2016.

But this weekend, Jones’s men face their biggest mission yet.

They must walk into the Lion’s den in Dublin and emerge unscathed.

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If they can do that, by conquering Ireland in what is likely to be an incredibly brutal battle, they will walk away with some hugely satisfying spoils.

Not only will England add a second successive Grand Slam to the Six Nations title they claimed by smashing Scotland 61-21 at Twickenham last Saturday, they will also break a world record.

Because if they defeat the home side in Dublin, they will make it 19 Test wins in a row, bettering New Zealand’s 18, which culminated in a victory against Australia in October, 2016.

There is so much on the line for England.

And how they will need their Saints stars, among others, to stand up and be counted this weekend.

Dylan Hartley, who has captained England in all 18 of their consecutive Test victories, Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes have certainly played their part in the success story.

And lofty lock Lawes, in particular, has been catching the eye.

Now he wants another win this weekend to crown what has been a spectacular rise in English rugby during the past 14 months.

“It’s a massive incentive,” Lawes said. “We want to be the number-one team in the world and to do that we need to go over to tough places and win.

“That’s the goal and we’ve trained this week and we will be ready.

“We’re very prepared.

“There has been no stone left unturned this week, he (Jones) guaranteed that, and we’ll go out there and give ourselves the best chance to


“That’s the most important thing.”

The Saints stars will need no reminding of how difficult it is to prevail at the Aviva Stadium, having tussled with Leinster in recent years.

However, Hartley, Lawes and Wood were not involved in December’s Champions Cup horror show, in which Saints were drubbed 60-13 in Dublin.

And they can each call on memories of December, 2013, when Saints beat a Leinster team full of Ireland internationals 18-9 at the Aviva.

Hartley, Lawes and Wood all started on that day, and how they would dearly love a repeat for their country this weekend.

They go into the game buoyed by the win against Scotland, in which Jonathan Joseph scored a hat-trick.

England scored seven tries in total, with Anthony Watson, Billy Vunipola, on his comeback from injury, and Danny Care, who dotted down twice, also on the scoresheet.

It was an impressive success, in which Lawes again played a key role, earning plenty of plaudits from the pundits.

And the Saints star said: “We wanted to dictate to them (Scotland) how the game was going to go and we managed to do that.

“It’s obviously great, but our job’s not done yet.

“I know that we’re really keen to go to Ireland, put on a good performance there and hopefully come away with a Grand Slam.”