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Easter insists England won't change

Nick Easter insisted England will never take a backward step on the field, despite Courtney Lawes' aggression placing his Rugby World Cup future in doubt.

Lawes has been cited for allegedly striking Argentina hooker Mario Ledesma with his knee in Saturday's 13-9 victory, an offence which carries a guideline suspension of between three and 12 weeks.

If judicial officer Terry Willis, from Australia, finds Lawes guilty and decides his offence is of medium or high severity then the Northampton lock could miss the rest of the tournament. "You can't take a step back in rugby. If you take a step back you have lost," said Easter.

The low entry level is three weeks, which could be reduced for mitigating circumstances. Lawes will attend the hearing in Auckland, which is due to start at 3am UK time, where he will be represented by England's travelling legal expert Richard Smith QC.

No citing was brought on the Argentina player James Haskell appeared to accuse of eye-gouging after a scuffle in the closing moments of the game. Easter was on hand to break up that scrap and he vowed the unity in England's squad means the players all have each others' back.

He added: "It is a physical game. If you are not up for it physically you will get found out. We look after each other. This is a very close group of players. You wouldn't be here if you weren't going to do that automatically."

Lawes relishes the physical side of the game and he put in a bone-shuddering tackle on Gonzalo Tiesi after the Pumas centre had kicked the ball. Tiesi suffered a knee injury in the challenge and has been forced out of the World Cup, with Pumas wing Lucas Borges called up as a replacement.

Argentina made England battle for their victory, leading 9-3 past the hour mark and Easter began to fear the worst. For a moment, Easter wondered how dark a mood he would be in as he threw himself off the famous Nevis bungee-jumping bridge at the team's base in Queenstown.

But England found a way to pull the match round and Easter believes the resolve they showed against the defiant Pumas will hold them in good stead for the rest of the World Cup. "Argentina are a tough side, we won. With 20 minutes to go we weren't winning," said Easter.

"I was thinking: 'When I jump off that 134-metre bungee jump on Monday is it going to be good thoughts of training the next day or bad?' But you can't allow yourself to think in a panic mode. We have been together a long time and we had faith in each other to come through with the right result. It showed the character of the squad."


From Belfast Telegraph