Courtney Lawes has conceded that former Northampton Saints teammate Dylan Hartley had a very different relationship with England head coach Eddie Jones compared to one he has enjoyed since the Australian took over in 2016.
In a recent interview in the Daily Telegraph to publicise his new book, former England skipper Hartley said that he felt “like a piece of meat, thrown in the bin because it was past its sell-by date. I’d had enough of being governed by Eddie.”
As he battled to prove his fitness, he was eventually told by Jones: “You’re f****d, mate.”
The details are revealed in a new book chronicling the career of Hartley, one Lawes is yet to read, but the lock did have a ringside seat on their relationship.
“Me and Eddie had quite a different relationship than with Dyls [Dylan Hartley] and Eddie. Because Dyls was the captain, he did ride him pretty hard. He definitely got the brunt of Eddie. I’m just kind of… floating around basically,” Lawes told Jim Hamilton in a RugbyPass Lockdown interview.
“I do my leadership bits but ultimately me and Dylan have different personalities. [Eddie] doesn’t really get on me like that. But in terms of when Eddie first came in, I was just going through the motions in my career. I was still starting regularly for England, still quite young, and just not working hard enough, as hard as I should have been.
“I think he recognised that and opened my eyes up to how much I’d fallen off, which obviously was disappointing for me – not just to hear but to know. I did go through a portion of my career just going through the motions, not being hungry enough basically.
“I wasn’t lazy, I was still doing a lot of hard graft, but I had moved away from the ball carrying aspect of my game. I was concentrating on work-rate and my defensive stuff, which I normally do. He wanted me to add that ball-carrying that I had when I was younger but had lost a lot of confidence in. He drove me to put a big emphasis on that in my training, do loads of extras and get my act in gear basically.”
Lawes says he doesn’t know if he’d go along with Hartley’s view of professional rugby players as crash Test dummies. “It’s the physicality of the sport that brings a lot of viewers in. It’s actually the physicality of the sport that I enjoy.
“I don’t know if I feel like a crash test dummy. All I know is that this is what I signed up for. This is what I’m here for.”
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