Eddie Jones hails ‘role model’ Courtney Lawes and believes the England striker could have the best rugby ahead of him

Eddie Jones has praised Courtney Lawes’ development from a bad first impression six years ago to the England captain with his best rugby ahead of him at 33.

Lawes is back from a head injury – a problem with his vestibular system, rather than his brain, the player said – to captain England against Wales this weekend in his first appearance since January 16.

Lawes excelled as England captain in the autumn but, with Owen Farrell injured, he handed over to Tom Curry for the loss to Scotland and victory in Italy.

Jones explained he was “not that impressed” with the veteran striker when he took over as head coach six years ago.

Lawes has changed his ways and will earn his 91st England cap (he also has five for the Lions) when he lines up on the blind side on Saturday.

“I always remember watching him for England and he was like this torpedo that went off the line and drilled people,” he said. “It was the most important part of his game.

“When I arrived here I have to admit I wasn’t that impressed with him. His attitude was very laid back, he had a lot of injuries, he didn’t train a lot. He had to live up to this what we need in the team and he did it brilliantly.

“I couldn’t fault his dedication and discipline now. He knows his body and takes good care of his body. He’s committed to being the best player he can be, but he hasn’t changed as a person, which is fantastic.

Jones went into more detail about what he felt Lawes needed to improve.

“I don’t mind club sandwiches because he needs to keep the weight off,” he laughed. “He wasn’t looking after his body in terms of rehabilitation and he needed to train harder. He wasn’t training hard. He was doing more rehabilitation than training hard, but he did very well. fixed that. He’s a real role model for our team.

“I think he has a good mindset at the moment. He is committed to being the best player he can be and he wants to play in the next World Cup. It was his birthday yesterday – 33. He had a big chocolate cake and they couldn’t find enough candles to put in it!

(Pool via REUTERS)

“I have never seen him in such a good state of mind. He’s focused on his rugby but he’s still this laconic, relaxed guy. There’s no reason his best rugby shouldn’t be ahead of him.

Lawes remembers being fired from a warning by Jones.

“I guess I knew I had to change and adapt to keep doing what I wanted to do which is keep playing for England and I had the dedication to do that,” he said. he declared.

“That’s what I went out and did. It’s the best thing I could have done because it meant I was able to give my all to my playing career. When I finish one day, I can look back and say that I gave it my all.

“He didn’t tell me about my training standards. He basically said ‘I need you to hit and carry and if you can’t do that you won’t be on the team’ so at the time I was still good at D but I had dropped my carry game. I knew I had to start over and get back to it.

Jones said he was confident in Lawes’ fitness for the game, despite his time out, citing his performance against Tonga in the fall – which included a superb try tackle – as evidence that he is often at its best with little advance. .

“He had a pretty solid preparation for the game and the one thing we know about Courtney is that he tends to play well as soon as he comes into the paddock,” Jones said.

“That’s our experience with him. He’s got a pretty unique body, Courtney – he’s fast but he’s tall and lean so it’s easy to work him out, which has happened, so we think he’ll be able to play a big role in the game. ”

Rebecca R. Santistevan