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England deliver the latest update on their wait for Courtney Lawes

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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England assistant Matt Proudfoot has described Courtney Lawes as “raring to go” for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match away to Scotland – even though he is still only negotiating his way through the return to play protocols with Eddie Jones’ squad following the concussion he suffered while playing for Northampton last month.  

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The would-be England skipper took a blow on January 16 when playing for the Saints against Ulster in the Heineken Champions Cup and Nick Isiekwe of Saracens was called into the England squad last week as injury cover while Lawes was left to progress through his return to play protocols. 

With the injured Owen Farrell unavailable for the entire championship, the expectation was that Lawes would again take on the responsibility of the captaincy after he filled in twice during the Autumn Nations Series when Farell was absent. 

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However, Lawes now appears to be very much in a race against time with the countdown on towards Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield – although Proudfoot and England are still giving him every chance of coming right just in time for the 2022 championship campaign opener.  

“Joe (Marler) will be okay for Saturday, trained full-out today [Tuesday]. Had a good scrummaging session with Joe, so he is looking good. Courtney is still going through his return to play processes and he is progressing through that, and we will have a look at how Jonny Hill comes through his process. So far everyone is looking in a good state,” said Proudfoot at the delayed media briefing England held on Tuesday afternoon.  

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“We have got to follow the process,” he added with regards to Lawes. “With concussion, it’s very important that you follow that process and if we have one per cent of doubt we won’t play him – but he is raring to go. He is progressing nicely through what he has been asked to do, what the doctors have structured for him and he is right on top of it. Let’s see how we go. It is only Tuesday today, there is still a couple of days to go.”   

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Having suffered a fifth-place finish in last year’s Six Nations, England have since remoulded their leadership group and Farrell came into the November series with Lawes, Ellis Genge and Tom Curry all named as vice-captains. Curry filled in on media duties last week at the official Six Nations launch in Lawes’ absence and Proudfoot reckons England will have no issue with leadership if the 32-year-old’s name doesn’t feature in the XV when Jones names his round one team at 11.45 on Thursday morning.   

“Eddie has got a good leadership team in place that lead the players on the field. The two you mentioned [Luke Cowan-Dickie and Curry], and Ellis Genge is part of that. Particularly in the scrummaging session today the way Ellis led has been really pleasing. Obviously, Tom leads by example, the intensity he trains with. Each one of those young guys who supported Courtney have got their own speciality where they are leading and I must say the intensity was really spot on today.

“Courtney’s style is a collaborative style of leadership and each player has his own role to play and they try and support each other really well. I don’t think it is a case of one guy standing doing the job. They really support in their own way and if one of them has to step in, they are really comfortable to step in because of the way they support each other.”

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