Courtney Lawes remains the best second row in the country despite his injury lay-off according to former England enforcer Danny Grewcock, who is tipping the Saints star to finish his season in a British & Irish Lions shirt.
Lawes made his comeback from a variety of injuries against Worcester last month, having been sidelined since February with knee, shin and elbow problems which saw him restricted to just one Six Nations appearance and saw him miss the entire summer tour to South Africa.
In his absences, Leicester lock Geoff Parling and Saracens colossus Mouritz Botha have staked formidable claims in the England engine room, ably assisted by Tom Palmer from the bench.
But Grewcock, who won 69 caps for England in the second row, believes Lawes should walk back into Stuart Lancaster’s starting XV for the autumn internationals in November and December, provided he proves his fitness.
“I think if we are looking from an England point of view from the second row then you don’t have to look any further than Courtney Lawes, even if he has been injured,” said Grewcock, who is an SSE Rugby Energy ambassador.
“England are in a very strong position with second rows, some very talented lads there have all taken their opportunities with the likes of Mouritz Botha, Tom Palmer and Geoff Parling all coming in.
“But Courtney was certainly, prior to his injury, the number one guy in the second row. I think he was the probably the form second row for England for a very long time and his game was outstanding.
“He was breaking tackles, running with ball in hand and generally making a menace of himself around the pitch, finally conjuring up that bit of fear a second row needs.”
In an 11-year international career, Grewcock also toured twice with the Lions, in 2001 and 2005, and the former Bath and Sarries bruiser believes Lawes can follow suit next summer.
Warren Gatland will oversee the tour to Australia and perhaps nowhere are places more up for grabs in the second row with only Scotland’s Richie Gray seemingly a shoo-in for a place on the plan at present.
And Grewcock is convinced that if Lawes can reach his find his best international form this season, there’s no reason he won’t be joining him.
He added: “It would be good to see him get back and get back in that England jersey, and I’m sure anyone in the England jersey is going to be in a position to contest for that Lions shirt.
“He faces a bit of a race against time I suppose but the way he was playing before he went down injured, he is definitely one to keep an eye on if he reproduces that kind of form.”
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