Courtney Lawes to retire from England duty after World Cup: ‘It’s time’

Courtney Lawes will retire from England duty at the end of the tournament in France

A one-club man, Lawes is contracted at Northampton Saints for another season and intends to play on domestically.

He made his England debut in November 2009, coming on to partner now head coach Steve Borthwick in the second row in a defeat to Australia, and went on to win three Six Nations championships across his career.

Having played most of his career at lock, including starting the 2019 World Cup final at lock, the always-versatile Lawes has been stationed on the blindside for most of the last four years.

A series of impressive performances earned Lawes selection for a second British & Irish Lions tour in South Africa in 2021, and the forward captained his country for the first time against Tonga later that year.

He began this World Cup as England’s skipper while Owen Farrell served his suspension, leading the side to two victories and scoring only his second Test try in the win over Japan.

“I have so many [great memories],” Lawes stressed. “I think, as hard as it is being away from your family and stuff like that, you almost have another family. You really feel like that, especially when you’re away in camps like World Cup camps.

Courtney Lawes scored only his second England try against Japan in Nice

“It’s five months of staying with your brothers. I’ll definitely miss the boys, the banter and all the suff we get up to when we’re not training.

“From the last World Cup to this one, with the group of lads we’ve had coming through, I’ve really enjoyed being part of the group. You can see what it really means for us to play for each other.

“When you come up against teams like South Africa, where everyone thinks you’re going to get slaughtered, and you find another level for each other. So I’ll miss this group of boys specifically.

“We’ve had a lot of good times with these lads. I’ll definitely miss pulling the jersey on and giving it everything.”

England will face Argentina in a battle for third place at the Stade de France on Friday night in their final match of the World Cup.

Borthwick has suggested that he is fully intent on winning the game, opening the door for a farewell appearance for Lawes even at the end of a long campaign.

Steve Borthwick has hailed Courtney Lawes’s intelligence and work-rate

The England head coach hailed his vice-captain’s qualities nearly a decade and a half after welcoming him into the Test fold as a player.

Borthwick said: “We could talk about his trademark Courtney Lawes low tackles that cut the attackers down in their path, [but] what I see in Courtney is somebody who covers the ground.

“In crucial moments, he finds himself in the right place at the right time just so often. That’s a real sign of the intelligence of the player, a sign of the understanding of the player.

“That’s what he continues to do. [He has] more than 100 caps now, and you can see how hungry he is to help the team by the way he runs.”

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