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Skipper Lawes makes retirement quip post-beating the Springboks

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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England boss Eddie Jones has joked that stand-in skipper Courtney Lawes now wants to retire as captain after finishing off the November series with a perfect record. Owen Farrell has been reappointed as captain for the three-game Autumn Nations schedule, with three vice-captains appointed under him in Lawes, Tom Curry and Ellis Genge. 

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Jones’ best-laid plans, though, were scuppered by Covid and injury ruling Farrell out of two matches, resulting in Lawes being appointed England skipper for the wins over Tonga and the Springboks. With the latter success clinched in dramatic circumstances with an 80th-minute Marcus Smith penalty, it was later revealed that Lawes, tongue-in-cheek, suggested that he now wanted to quit the role while he was ahead.  

There is always good leadership on the field so the big fella next to me [Lawes] did a pretty good job,” enthused Jones in the giddy aftermath of the 27-26 win. “When he walked in he said he wanted to retire as captain, he has got a 100 per cent record and he wants to keep it unblemished.”

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Lawes outlined his pride in being the temporary figurehead for a squad rejuvenated by the dash of youth that Jones has now added to the mix on the back of the summer series where a multitude of new caps were given their first look-in.   

“We had a meeting Friday night and I was saying to the boys how incredibly proud I was to lead them out. They are such a good group of lads that have really bought into everything we have done in this series. 

“Not just the boys who get to play but the boys who had to go back to clubs. We have really made an effort to try and bring everybody together and make everybody a part of this team, including the boys who didn’t play Saturday that have contributed to that win.”

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Lawes was like a cheeky schoolkid recalling his gaffe at the finish, racing onto the pitch in celebration thinking the match was over when in fact referee Andrew Brace wanted to review the play that had unfolded with Freddie Steward getting tackled in the air at the restart following the lead0-taking Smith kick.   

“A bit over-excited. A couple of us got on there. We thought the game was over. It obviously wasn’t and then I just started getting pushed, so I ran back off the pitch. But yeah, my mistake,” he giggled. 

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