Paris holds no fear for England

Tue, 28 Jan 2014 19:17
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Courtney Lawes says England’s pack are confident of asserting themselves against Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Courtney Lawes says England’s pack are confident of asserting themselves against Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The lock is under no illusions as to the eye-watering physical confrontation that awaits England.

Given Phillipe Saint-André has selected just nine backs in a burly match-day 23, a close-quarter arm-wrestle is extremely likely.

Even so, Lawes insisted Graham Rowntree’s forwards would not shirk an acid test of their tournament credentials.

“They’re just going to big boys in the pack and they’re going to look to dominate us. It’s going to be a big challenge for us and if we win, we’ll have a great platform to go off,” he said.

“[We back ourselves], especially in the scrum and the line-out. We’re very strong and organised there - technically very good. That counts for a lot.”

Lawes added he is delighted to have enjoyed an injury-free season so far. H started all three internationals against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand at Twickenham in November - the first time he has managed such a feat in Test matches since 2010.

Throw in some marauding domestic and European form for Northampton Saints and the 24-year-old has reason to feel assured and comfortable heading into the Six Nations.

“It’s just good to be fit this year - touch wood - and playing consistent rugby,” said the towering lock. “Getting 80 minutes every week is hard on the body but it’s good on the mind.

“I just want to go out there and play the best I can. If my game doesn’t have any mistakes in it, the rest is a bonus.”

In the absence of Geoff Parling, Lawes has had the added responsibility of calling the line-outs - a mental burden that was initially tough to mix with his trademark all-action contributions in the loose.

However, in tandem with Joe Launchbury, he grew into the role and most prominently during the 22-30 defeat to Steve Hansen’s All Blacks he was able to influence elsewhere thanks to relentless carrying and breakdown work.

“It’s a lot more pressure. I found at the start of the series because I was so worried about calling the line-outs I didn’t perhaps do as much in the loose.

“Towards the end I got that balance right. Now I’ve just got to carry on with that.”

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