England forward calls for cool heads in clash with South Africa giants

England lock Courtney Lawes outjumps New Zealand No 8 Kieran Read during last Saturday's World Cup semi-final. Picture: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images
England lock Courtney Lawes outjumps New Zealand No 8 Kieran Read during last Saturday's World Cup semi-final. Picture: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images
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England forward Courtney Lawes sees the threat posed by South Africa’s huge pack of forwards as one to be met with calm execution not eye-popping violence.

“I don’t generally like to get too carried away, too hyped up,” said Lawes, who started in England’s second row alongside Maro Itoje in last week’s semi-final against New Zealand and can also play as a blindside flanker or offer great impact from the bench.

“I hit better, tackle better when I’m clear thinking,” Lawes said. “I put myself in better positions. If you run around like a headless chicken you can’t affect the game as much as you want to.”

The 30-year-old Northampton Saint, who is at his third World Cup, has long had a reputation for well-timed, big-hitting tackles.

“I’ve always been relatively relaxed,” Lawes said in Tokyo on Tuesday. “[But] I certainly pick my shots better nowadays. A lot of things come with experience and I probably had a few injuries which could have been avoided with better technique and a different mindset.

“I’m like the smallest second row in the world. But I’m not too bothered about the size of people because I generally chop [tackle] low.

“I’m strong enough and powerful enough; that’s the main thing. And I can get around the park. That’s all I’m worried about.”

South Africa have two 
starting lock forwards of 
205 cm (6ft 9ins) in height and another one on the bench, and they relied on the tight maul and scrum, and plenty of kicking from hand, to win their semi-final against Wales.

Lawes said: “Some people like that kind of game, some people don’t. I’m not going to judge.

“I probably expect them to kick a lot but, this being a World Cup final, we need to be ready for anything.

“There will be a couple of surprises thrown in there, I’m sure, but generally they’ll stick to what they know. There are certain things we can learn from Wales.”

Lawes reacted with a smile to head coach Eddie Jones promising a lighter training load this week.

“I was pretty happy to hear that, as one of the older fellas,” said Lawes. “In fact, yesterday I felt pretty sore but today I felt brilliant in training. Hopefully Eddie sticks to his word because personally I prefer feeling pretty fresh going into games. But whatever happens I’m just looking forward to getting out there – if I get picked.”