Saints lock Lawes back to his best

Courtney Lawes
Courtney Lawes

Saints lock Courtney Lawes believes he is back to his bulldozing best.

Second rows Lawes, Joe Launchbury and Maro Itoje started for England against Wales last Saturday and performed well in the win.

Itoje was named as blindside flanker, wearing the number six jersey, but such is his scrummaging strength that Jones deployed him at lock, with Lawes on the flank.

Lawes said: “I suppose the only difference between a lock and a six nowadays is the position in the scrum.

“I’m just here to perform to the best of my ability and do what I’m told.”

And Lawes believes he is in his best form since helping Saints win the 2014 Premiership title ahead of Saracens.

“I really want to see where my potential can take me and find where that limit is,” he said.

“(It is about) sustained performance. You can’t be the best player in the world for a game and think you’re the best player in the world.”

It was a word with Jones, early in the Australian’s now 15-month tenure, that gave Lawes an added impetus.

Jones wanted the defensively destructive lock to rediscover his ball-carrying ability.

“I wasn’t in the place I needed to be when I first met him. And, now, hopefully (I am) getting there,” Lawes added.

“Eddie pointed out that that is what he wanted me to do. I had a choice: carry on doing what I was doing and probably not play for England again, or develop my game, again - back to what it was.

“It was very good for me. I needed to push myself more and that’s what he made me do.

“It’s been much better for my game. It means that I don’t have to rely on my defensive game to play well. I can do a lot more than that.”

An ankle operation after last June’s 3-0 Test series win in Australia has helped Lawes’ footwork, aiding his ball carrying and enabling him to fill some of the void by the injury-enforced absences of the Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy.

“Hopefully I can continue to develop in that department and get better still,” the 27-year-old said.

Jones has hinted at changes to face Italy on February 26, but Lawes still wants to play, recognising in a competitive environment possession of the shirt is key.

He added: “You want to play, but you respect the boss man’s decisions. That’s the end of it.”