Lions lock Lawes now world class, says Saints team-mate Day
Few people in rugby know Courtney Lawes as well as his long-time second row partner at Saints.
And Christian Day fully believes his team-mate can now be placed in the ‘world class’ category.
Lawes has long been a key figure for club and country.
But this season, he has taken the step up to the next level.
It has resulted in the 28-year-old being given a chance to shine on the tour of New Zealand with the British & Irish Lions.
And, it is fair to say, Lawes has grabbed the opportunity with both of his sizeable hands.
“The chances he’s had, he’s performed very well,” Day said.
“He’s had probably the best season I’ve ever seen him play.
“His all-round game has come more and more to the fore.
“We already knew he tended to shine in big games, and he’s carried that on on the Lions tour when he’s had his chance.
“He was really unlucky to get the head injury he got, but he was looked after the way he should be and I’m looking forward to seeing him get a Test appearance before he comes home.”
Lawes was at it again on Tuesday, putting in a hugely accomplished showing against Super Rugby champions Hurricanes.
The Lions were cruising while Lawes was on the field, but after he was replaced, due to boss Warren Gatland wanting to keep him fresh, the Hurricanes stormed back to claim a 31-31 draw.
Nevertheless, that didn’t tarnish the contribution of a player who was named man of the match in the final three games of Northampton’s season.
And Day knows just how far Lawes has come at Saints.
“Every player will get injuries through their career and he certainly has struggled a little bit, which is due to his physical make-up, but what he has done this season is produce a consistency, where he’s not just performing in big games or making one big hit everyone remembers,” Day said.
“He’s performing for 80 minutes and he’s consistently at the top of the tackle stats, the carry stats and his all-round game is now marking him out.
“I think he’s becoming that world class player that he can carry on being for the next three or four years in the prime of his career.”
So, New Zealand beware.
Because Lawes is certainly capable of causing the All Blacks, who won the first Test 30-15 in Auckland last Saturday, some real problems if he emerges from the bench this weekend.
“Southern hemisphere rugby suits him because he is that physical animal and he’s not a big, slow-moving brute,” added Day, who has racked up 208 Saints appearances.
“He’s athletic, he’s very, very dynamic in contact.
“The Lions lineout went very well last weekend, but he’s certainly a world class lineout forward so the game would have suited him.
“It’s not taking anything away from New Zealand, who probably produced one of the best international performances I’ve ever seen.
“People were actually underestimating the best team in the world and all they did was reinforce their credentials in what was a brilliant game of rugby.”