England will have few excuses should their lineout falter against Fiji on Friday night but Courtney Lawes is confident they won’t be needed.
The set piece has been an area of concern for Stuart Lancaster’s side during their World Cup warm-up games, especially with Dylan Hartley absent from the tournament.
The hooker – and Lawes’ Northampton Saints teammate – is an ever-reliable asset in the lineout, while a string of different combinations in the engine room and the back row rarely seemed to click in recent weeks.
However, Lancaster looks to have found his second-row combination in Lawes and line-out veteran Geoff Parling, at the expense of the fresh-faced Joe Launchbury.
The selection of another Saint – Tom Wood – on the blindside only strengthens their lineout arsenal and Lawes believes the Red Rose boss has settled on the right formula just in time for their Twickenham curtain-raiser.
“It’s not gone exactly to plan but we’ve only played pre-season games,” said the 26-year-old.
“We messed around with players in certain positions and different combinations and it’s hard to get any consistency when you are doing that kind of stuff.
“Coming into the World Cup we will put even more detail on it and I’m sure it will be fine.
“Geoff has done awesome. He runs the lineout really well and brings that stability to the team. It’s a bit of a fight between us three as to who is going to play but competition makes you better and it has certainly driven us on and made us closer as well.
“It’s such a competitive position. I’m thankful that Stuart has put his trust in me and I’m going to go out there and try not to let him down.”
With 40 caps to his name, Lawes is already an experience member of the England squad and preparing for his second World Cup campaign.
And it is a role he is enjoying – once known almost exclusively for high-energy performances and crunching tackles, he is eager to show on the big stage a maturity to his game.
“It’s not my first World Cup,” added Lawes. “It’s big but any World Cup is big. I’ve got a fair few caps now and I know not to get too carried away. You need to be thinking clearly in the stressful conditions and environments.
“I’m trying to add to the team that way, keeping everyone composed and making sure you’re not too heated. You’ve got to be cool in those kinds of games.
“I’ve been unlucky in recent years (with injury) but, touch wood, I can get through this and crack on and really push to my potential.”
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