Courtney Lawes says ‘selfless’ England will play to strengths at World Cup

By Sports Desk October 02, 2023

Courtney Lawes insists England have forged an identity based on self-sacrifice as the personalities of the World Cup heavyweights begin to emerge.

England have crushed Argentina, Japan and Chile to claim a quarter-final place as Pool D winners with a match to spare and their procession through the group phase will be completed against Samoa on Saturday.

Expectation is rising, even allowing for the fact they have been gifted the easiest route into the knockout phase, but the likes of Ireland, South Africa and New Zealand have been making greater waves.

After the All Blacks’ 14-try rout of Italy on Friday, head coach Ian Foster made a pointed reference to the grinding nature of Ireland’s seismic victory over the Springboks.

“If you look at the South Africa-Ireland game, it was a different game of rugby,” Foster said.

“The ball was in play for 27 minutes throughout the whole game. It was a very stop-start game, very physical, very combative.

“You saw a different spectacle from us and at some point the world has got to decide which game it would rather watch.”

Lawes sees room for all playing styles and is satisfied with the traits developed by Steve Borthwick’s side.

“Our way is the England way. Doing it our way is doing it for each other,” the Northampton back row said.

“I like that it’s now really obvious what is every team’s DNA and what they’re trying to do. All the top teams have got really different genetics as a team, if you will – a team strategy.

“It’ll be interesting when they play each other how that is going to play off. I think that’s really good for us as players to see and be a part of.

“We’re a really strong defensive team. That’s our backbone. We’ve conceded one try in three games. We’re an aerial, kicking team and are very good at getting the ball back.

“We’re looking to build an attack off that, and hopefully by the time we get later on in the tournament that is where we want to be, and we will show a bit of a different side to us.

“Especially at the 2019 World Cup and this time, in terms of a team of players, we are so much more selfless.

“We want to play, we want to go out there and put our bodies on the line for each other and that is what really makes a difference when it hits the fan and you are under the cosh.

“You have got to want to get into it for each other or you get found out pretty quickly.

“We know what works, we want everybody to buy in, we do this for each other, not for ourselves.

“We hit a ruck and forego the glory so we can get the ball and someone else can score.

“Those are the things we pride ourselves on as a team and what we want to carry on into the future as well.”

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