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Courtney Lawes: England have given everything to prepare for World Cup

Eddie Jones’ side are joint-second favourites for the tournament ahead of their opening Pool C clash against Tonga on Sunday.

Courtney Lawes will be a key figure for England in the World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)
Courtney Lawes will be a key figure for England in the World Cup (Richard Sellers/PA)

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent, Miyazaki

Courtney Lawes has promised England will give their all in pursuit of winning the World Cup.

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Eddie Jones’ men launch their bid to wrestle the Webb Ellis Trophy from New Zealand when they clash with Tonga at the Sapporo Dome on Sunday, the first of two games they must play in four days.

Arriving in Japan as joint-second favourites alongside South Africa and behind the All Blacks, they have the goal of atoning for their embarrassing performance at the last World Cup.

“We can’t be more committed to winning the tournament. We’ve given everything over the last four years that we could to prepare for it,” Lawes said.

“We want to go all the way, but it is one step at a time with Tonga first so all eyes are on them. We’ve had to contain ourselves a little bit this week because we don’t want to peak too early, but I know we will be ready and firing.”

Tonga are ranked 15th in the world and are expected to be swept aside with ease, but they are big-hitting opponents who field the heaviest player in world rugby in 24-stone prop Ben Tameifuna.

Seven of their starting XV play in England including their captain Siale Piutau, the Bristol centre, and the nation’s record points scorer in fly-half Kurt Morath.

“We want to bring as much intensity as we can. We want to run them around and be as physical as we can because we know they’ll bring that against us,” Lawes said.

“We’re ready for whatever they throw at us and will come at them with our game plan. There’s no denying that they have a great team and if we let them play we’ll have a hard day, a long day.

“You don’t really want to get in an arm-wrestle with this kind of team. We have a strategy and if we can put that into place it will make the game go easier for us.

“The one thing we don’t want to do is just try and knock them over up front because that’s exactly what they want to do. We must play to our strengths.”

England have picked their strongest available team against Tonga with Lawes partnering Maro Itoje in the second row, forcing George Kruis onto the bench.

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Maro Itoje will partner Courtney Lawes in the second row (David Davies/PA)

It is one of only two changes made to the team that overwhelmed Ireland at Twickenham last month with Anthony Watson’s selection ahead of Joe Cokanasiga on the right wing the other.

“I’m delighted to have a start and I want to get out there and put it all on the pitch,” said Northampton lock Lawes, who is appearing in his third World Cup.

“Eddie wants physicality from me. I’ve got a lot of experience so he wants me to help lead the team in my actions.

“Although on paper we are a young team, we are still an experienced team with cool heads throughout and so we have a good chance of going far.”

PA

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