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Courtney Lawes says challenging Eddie Jones led to England captain role

Courtney Lawes retains the England captaincy ahead of Owen Farrell (Mike Egerton/PA)
Courtney Lawes retains the England captaincy ahead of Owen Farrell (Mike Egerton/PA)

Courtney Lawes believes his willingness to challenge Eddie Jones convinced England’s head coach that he should be appointed captain for the series against Australia.

Lawes will lead the tourists into Saturday’s first Test in Perth after retaining the role he performed during Owen Farrell’s injury-enforced absence in the autumn and Six Nations.

Even with Farrell restored at inside centre having overcome his ankle issues, Jones has kept faith with the 33-year-old lock whose calm and thoughtful manner have stood out throughout a period of transition.

Owen Farrell has been relieved of the England captaincy in order to focus on his own game
Owen Farrell has been relieved of the England captaincy in order to focus on his own game (Mike Egerton/PA)

As a self-confessed “old geezer”, Lawes insists he is comfortable pushing back against Jones if it is in the best interests of the team.

“Eddie wants to challenge himself. If I’m honest, I’m probably skipper because I think differently to him and I’m willing to challenge him as a leader. I think that’s why he’s kept me on,” Lawes said.

“I’m a old geezer now and don’t mind saying what’s on my mind. I think he liked that approach.

“I’m more than willing to essentially get a feel of what the team needs. The coaches will have a feeling for what the team needs and then we’ll come to a compromise from there, instead of it all being one way in terms of we just do what the coaches say.

“I’ve made a lot of the lads comfortable around the team and that’s the team environment we want.”

Jones has admitted that anointing Lawes as the third significant captain of his reign after Dylan Hartley and Farrell has the potential to cause friction.

Farrell is the dominant figure of a squad he has led since 2018 and his demotion creates a new dynamic, prompting Jones to note that “it’s a difficult situation, but they are both good players, good team-mates and they’re working it out.”

Two very different characters bring with them two very different approaches to the captaincy, but Lawes insists their personalities compliment each other.

“I’ve been working very closely with Owen. That first conversation we had after the captaincy decision was absolutely fine as I knew it would be,” Lawes said.

“If I’m honest, I expected Owen to get the role back and I was more than willing to… We work so well together. We’re almost polar opposite but in a good way.

“We find a pretty good balance and we’ll be keeping that, it’s just that I keep the armband this time and we’ll see what happens going forward.

“It feels great and being in this role is certainly something that I cherish. But it’s not just going to be me making all the decision on the field. It’s great to be able to contribute as much as I can to the team.”

England enter the series opener armed with an eight-Test winning run against Australia, but Lawes see them as formidable opponents on home soil.

“We generally match up pretty well against them, but you can’t take anything for granted, especially when you’re playing them in Australia. It’s the middle of their season so they will be raring to go and in peak form,” Lawes said.

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