Lawes return boosts fearless England squad

NORTHAMPTON lock Courtney Lawes has handed England a timely boost by returning to the 23-man squad to face New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.

Lawes was last capped for England in February against Wales during the Six Nations but damaged his knee playing for the Saints against Saracens in October.

As a result he has not featured in the autumn internationals yet but played an hour for Northampton in their Premiership victory over London Welsh on Saturday.

Lawes replaces Mouritz Botha in the squad while the expected change of uncapped Freddie Burns instead of the injured Toby Flood completes an otherwise unchanged squad that faced South Africa.

Meanwhile England assistant coach Andy Farrell has urged the side to upset the odds, insisting his world champions are beatable.

“I would think that our boys will see this as a massive privilege to be involved in at such a time in their development – to play against a side that is really, really experienced and has been through a lot and made themselves one of the best sporting teams at the moment,” said Farrell.

“They are beatable. This group is fearless, it could certainly be a great milestone. You cannot be exceptional in every single department for the whole 80 minutes. It is up to us to make them have an off day and hopefully be on song ourselves.”