‘We knew we could play that way’

NORTHAMPTON lock Courtney Lawes may have played a pivotal role in transforming England into stylish world-beaters but has reminded his colleagues of the virtues of winning ugly.

Lawes is one of a clutch of youngsters at the heart of Martin Johnson’s emerging outfit, along with Saints team-mates Chris Ashton and Ben Foden and Leicester duo Ben Youngs and Toby Flood.

The second-row achieved immortality last weekend when he provided the pass that released Ashton to sprint 90m for a spectacular try against Australia that looks destined to be replayed year after year.

But while that 35-18 triumph saw England hailed for their swashbuckling display, Lawes knows less entertaining qualities will be required if they are to achieve consistent success.

“It’s a good feeling when you win convincingly,” Lawes told City A.M. ahead of Saturday’s clash with Samoa. “It was brilliant to have been the link man in that effort [Ashton’s wonder try]. Youngs passed to me and then I gave Ashton space to score – that felt good.

“We always knew we could play that way but it all came together. We want to win every game and we’re hungry to win the next two. Against Australia we showed that we can beat one of the best teams in the world. Now we need to make sure that when we’re not firing we can still beat the better sides by grinding out results.”

Lawes is one of a number of Northampton stars who have been handed the chance to replicate their stellar Premiership performances in an England shirt. And the selection of three club colleagues – hooker Dylan Hartley, full-back Foden and winger Ashton – seems to be bringing the best out of the Hackney-born forward.

“We link up really well in games,” Lawes added. “We are used to playing alongside each other. It helps a lot, and especially when we’re all playing well.”

England boss Martin Johnson has shuffled his pack for the penultimate autumn international, resting captain Lewis Moody and making three other changes with a visit from world champions South Africa looming. Lawes, who keeps his place, insists it is not a case of taking Samoa lightly.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for Samoa,” he said. “They’ll be difficult in certain ways. It’s about rotation – you can’t play four massive games in a row. It freshens up the squad.”

Tickets for the Investec International between England v Samoa are available from £35 for adults and £10 for under 16s via www.rfu.com/tickets