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England's Courtney Lawes to celebrate 50th cap with physical South Africa battle

Published 09/11/2016

Courtney Lawes is set to make his 50th appearance for England this weekend
Courtney Lawes is set to make his 50th appearance for England this weekend

Courtney Lawes intends to celebrate his 50th England cap on Saturday by roaming Twickenham in search of South Africa's biggest players as targets for his trademark hits.

The second row will take satisfaction from the milestone occasion knowing that injury has meant it will have been achieved the hard way, having made his debut in 2009.

Several YouTube highlights reels pay tribute to Lawes' bone-jarring tackles and the 27-year-old - who describes his outlook to the game as "still carefree" - insists it is the weapon in his armoury that gives him greatest satisfaction.

"I pride myself on being physical. It's not for myself and it's certainly not for my shoulders, it's for the team and giving energy to the boys," said Lawes, who will be calling the line-out against South Africa.

"I'm not too fussed about who I hit, where I hit or how hard it is as long as I'm doing my job.

"I prefer to stop the big guys rather than wiping out smaller ones. I do that frequently for Northampton, but when it's on big guys the impact doesn't look anywhere near as bad because they are the same weight.

"Just as long as I'm not missing tackles and I'm doing my part for the team I'm happy."

When asked if he relished facing the Springboks because of the chance to tackle some of the sport's biggest players, Lawes replied: "Yeah, definitely.

"But the laws of the game are changing and I don't want to put my team in any stress from getting cards so obviously the hits have taken a plunge from that.

"Of course we have strategies around the pack to deal with their physicality and hopefully we will put that into effect.

"We have spoken about how physical they are and how their mindset changes when they come to England and we will have to deal with that."

Lawes' duel with Springbok giant Eben Etzebeth is one of the most eagerly-awaited collisions on Saturday.

"Etzebeth is a big guy and he runs hard and straight. It's about technique, your height in the tackle and things like that," Lawes said.

"I'm not going to fly into him and try and smoke him, but I can certainly put him down and make the next guy's job a bit easier on my team."

Lawes has profited from injuries to first-choice lock pairing Maro Itoje and George Kruis, but his 50th cap may have been delayed had he not recovered from the knee injury that forced his late withdrawal from two Northampton matches last month.

"I did it about a month ago and carried on playing. The problem with that is that it kept blowing up and I had to get swelling down for the next game," Lawes said.

"It got to the point where I couldn't get it down so I just needed some time to rest and then crack on with playing. But I've trained fully and it's fine."

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