Lawes pens new Saints deal
December 21, 2011
England international Courtney Lawes is set to feature at Franklin's Gardens until at least 2015 © Getty Images
Northampton Saints have announced that lock Courtney Lawes has signed a new deal with the club that will keep him at Franklin's Gardens until at least 2015.
The 22-year-old England international, who won the last of his 13 Test caps during the recent Rugby World Cup, has spent his entire career in the black, green and gold after making his first team debut against Esher in October 2007.
Renowned for his athletic prowess, ball handling skills and aggressive defence, Lawes said that he had no hesitation in signing the new deal and that he believes that the best is yet to come from himself as a player and from the team as a whole.
"It means a lot to sign a new contract with the Saints because I've grown up around here," Lawes said. "It's good to sign on again and see myself with a future at the club. I enjoy playing here and working with the coaches and want to stay here for as long as I can.
"I think I've improved a lot as a player in recent years, which has all come from playing here and being coached here. The coaches keep us grounded off the field and I've still got a lot to learn from them on the field.
"Winning the LV= Cup and European Challenge Cup are obvious highlights, as was playing in the Heineken Cup final - even though we lost. Playing in front of a packed Franklin's Gardens is really good, too. The fans are great here and really get behind us."
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder said that the three-year deal was a massive statement of intent by both Lawes as a player and the Saints as a club. "Securing the signatures of players like Courtney for three years is very important for us as we look to make the next step up as a club," he said. "We have been at the right end of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and playing in the later stages of cup competitions in the past few years, but we want to be in the mix for the major pieces of silverware every year and to do that we need top players at Franklin's Gardens.
"Courtney is still maturing and learning as a player, but he has shown even at just 22 years of age that he has all the things you need to succeed. He is still learning and we believe that he will continue to improve over the next few years. We're certainly delighted that he will be doing so at Franklin's Gardens."
And Lawes has been joined in committing to the Saints by young trio Jamie Elliott, Ben Nutley and Mike Haywood who have all penned senior contracts at Franklin's Gardens. The trio have featured in the Premiership and the Heineken Cup this season and Mallinder sees their signatures as a vital aspect of the club's development.
"Players like Jamie, Ben and Mike are the future lifeblood of Northampton Saints," Mallinder said. "It is always good to have players in the squad who the fans can see as being their own having watched their development over a number of years.
"The players themselves have grown up in the culture of the club and we have seen how vital that is to the ongoing success of other teams that have been at the top of their leagues for a number of years. More importantly, all three have shown that they are ready for first team rugby and have the quality to be able to compete at the highest levels of Aviva Premiership Rugby and the Heineken Cup.
"It speaks volumes for the work being done by Alan Dickens and Mark Hopley and the rest of the Academy coaches and I'm delighted that Jamie, Ben and Mike have signed full contracts with us."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Following the passing of Jack Kyle, Huw Richards pays tribute to arguably the finest player Ireland has produced
"When Mike Burton was sent off I thought the world had gone crazy - just Pommy bashing, hitting anyone." Behind the Rose heads back to 1975
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance