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'I was really relieved that my head stuff wasn't really serious'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Reinstated England skipper Courtney Lawes has spoken of his relief at finally being able to overcome the concussion issue that left him sidelined these past six weeks. The Northampton forward suffered a blow in the January 16 Heineken Champions Cup loss to Ulster at Franklin’s Gardens and his recovery has taken its time to come right. 

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Lawes was expected to captain England in their opening two matches of the 2022 campaign versus Scotland and Italy, but he didn’t come through his return to play protocol in time and the responsibility was instead given to Tom Curry in those matches.   

However, the 33-year-old is now fully mended and he was restored to the England pack at Thursday’s team announcement at the expense of Nick Isiekwe with the added bonus that he will also captain the team against Wales on Saturday at Twickenham. 

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Lawes had led England in their November wins over Tonga and South Africa and he was glad to get back into the mix for the crunch round three Guinness Six Nations game versus the Welsh.

“I feel really good. Although frustrating I was really relieved that my head stuff wasn’t really serious. It was just something I was going to take a bit of time to recover from. I am feeling really good. I have been able to train these last couple of weeks. I am feeling strong and ready to go,” insisted Lawes after Eddie Jones named a starting XV showing four changes from round two in Rome. 

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The re-appointment of Lawes as England captain will now see history made in the match-up versus Wales. Never before in the previous 137 meetings between the countries did the fixture feature captains hailing from the same club, but that will now happen in game No138 with Lawes contesting the coin toss with Welsh skipper Dan Biggar, his teammate from Northampton. “It’s awesome,” reckoned Lawes. 

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“It’s great for the club and it’s great for us to get to play against each other and captain against each other. I am looking forward to the banter with the coin toss and stuff like that. I am really looking forward to playing against a good friend.” 

It is only the fourth time in Six Nations history that a club has provided both captains in a game. Ex-Stade Francais colleagues Sergio Parisse (Italy) and Pascal Pape (France) did it in 2013 and 2014, while Toulouse saw Gareth Thomas captain Wales against a Fabien Pelous-led France in 2005. This same club quirk also only happened twice during Five Nations history, way back in 1913 and 1914.

England will be facing a Wales side that also includes the return to fitness of some key forwards. “Tobs (Taulupe Faletau) and (Ross) Moriarty coming back in is definitely going to be good for them. It bolsters their pack, gives them a bit more of that physical edge and experience as well. It will be a hell of a battle upfront. You can see it as a quarter-final as such. We are mad up for it.”   

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