England ready to unleash Lawes
August 11, 2011
Lawes provides a physical edge to England's pack and will hope to impress come Saturday © Getty Images
England's enforcer Courtney Lawes hopes to continue in the same uncompromising manner he approaches training in Saturday's Test against Wales.
The heavy-hitting Northampton lock missed the Six Nations with a knee injury and sat out last weekend's 23-19 victory over Wales with a neck problem. After seven weeks in camp, Lawes is chomping at the bit for a return to action.
The 22-year-old will start in an England side featuring 13 changes for the trip to the Millennium Stadium. And every one of his team-mates will be relieved that, for the first time since their World Cup preparations began, Lawes will have a Welshman and not one of them in his sights.
"Someone said the other day that when he's playing you can hear it - when he hits players there's a distinctive noise," said England manager Martin Johnson with a certain glee. "He's got a level of aggression about him and intensity."
Lawes, who made his full Test debut in England's 21-20 victory over Australia in Sydney last summer, prides himself on his aggression. The 22-year-old admitted he and Manu Tuilagi, England's new powerhouse centre, have been competing to see who can make the biggest tackle in training.
"You are supposed to train how you play and that is what I try and do," said Lawes. "The other boys aren't that happy but they get over it.
"In training there have been a couple of times when Manu has put in a big hit and I have done one straight afterwards. There is a bit of competition there."
A fortnight ago, Lawes was taken to hospital in an ambulance with his neck in a brace after a collision with Louis Deacon which left him requiring oxygen. Lawes was cleared of any serious damage but it was a scare for England. Johnson's delight at Lawes' return indicates just how important a figure he will be at the World Cup.
"He's probably the most athletic second row I've seen in terms of pace round the field," said Johnson. "He gives you some real line-speed, he can hit very hard and he carries the ball very well. He's a pretty instinctive rugby player as well.
"His tight game, his mauling game...his club have asked him to do that a lot and he does it very well. He's a reasonably young man and is developing into an all-round second row."
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