Lions hopeful Lawes fit and firing for Saints' run-in
Courtney Lawes always said that given a run of games, he would get to where he and many others felt he should be.
And now the Saints lock has hit the lofty heights that he always threatened to during his early career.
Lawes was a stand-out player for England during the Six Nations.
His all-action performances helped the Red Rose claim a second successive title, but they couldn’t quite make it back-to-back grand slams.
Ireland undid them in the final match of the tournament, but Lawes still managed to top England’s tackle count, making a mammoth 20 hits at the Aviva Stadium.
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And having returned to Saints the following week, he was one of the best players on the park in the clash with Leicester Tigers.
Like the Ireland game, it may have ended in defeat. But that didn’t detract from another gargantuan display from Lawes.
“I’m feeling good and ready to play again,” Lawes said.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well and I’ve come a long way in a year.
“It’s great to be able to get back to some form and stay fit for this amount of time.
“I honestly think my form’s been down to being able to stay clear of injuries.
“This is the most rugby I’ve had for years and it’s about the little nuances you get out of games.
“It makes a big difference being able to play a lot and get better in every game.”
But Lawes’ injury-free run is not all down to luck.
“I am working a lot harder than I have been in previous years,” said the 28-year-old.
“I’m getting my physio, getting on top of niggles and working hard in the gym.
“It’s been a big change for me and it’s worked out well so far.”
The change in approach has come from the player.
In fact, he even sacrificed his stag do in Budapest last summer to have an operation that he needed to rectify a long-standing ankle problem.
“I wanted to get to the potential I could and I had to make a change, especially if I wanted to stay in the mixer for England,” Lawes said. “Luckily I’ve managed to do that.
“I’ve had a long list of injuries: a stress fracture, five torn medial ligaments, bad shoulders, a bad ankle, bits of bone in both ankles that had to be removed. It’s a long list.
“It’s about doing more in the gym, getting more weights in and doing more rehab.
“You have to make sure you do whatever you can to get it right.”
Lawes will now look to help Saints get it right during what is a tricky run-in.
Jim Mallinder’s men face the current Aviva Premiership top three in their next three matches.
Before the stadium:mk showdown against Saracens and the trip to Exeter Chiefs, Saints must go to the Ricoh Arena for a clash with Wasps on Sunday.
The Coventry-based side have won their past 16 Premiership home matches, with their most recent defeat having come at the hands of Saracens in December 2015.
And with places in the British & Irish Lions squad for this summer’s trip to New Zealand on the line, Lawes said: “It’s not the worst season to come into some decent form.
“Hopefully I will get a shot, but if not it will be a good trip to Argentina (with England).
“The Lions is out of my hands and all I can do is play well for Saints.
“We’ve got Wasps this weekend and I get to play against my boy Launch (Joe Launchbury) so I’ve got to keep on playing well.”