The Scotsman

Lawes retains Lions hope after bidding triumphant farewell to English rugby

- Duncan Bech

Courtney Lawes departs Northampto­n with a second Gallagher Premiershi­p winners medal and the ambition of embarking on one last British and Irish Lions tour.

Lawes captained Saints to a 25-21 victory over Bath in a dramatic Premiershi­p final at Twickenham on saturday as his 17-year career at his only English club came to a fitting end.

The former England skipper joins ambitious French second division side Brive next season but even at 35-years-old he is delivering internatio­nal-quality performanc­es.

Although announcing his 105-cap England odyssey was over at the 2023 World Cup, he would welcome a third Lions tour when Andy Farrell leads next year’s expedition to Australia.

“I’ d love to be involved with the Lions again,” said Lawes, who was part of the 2017 and 2021 series against the All Blacks and Springboks, making five Test appearance­s.

“The reason I retired from internatio­nal rugby is that I didn’t want to be away every couple of months for months on end. The Lions is for two months, I can bring my family out and we can have a good time. Having said that, I’m not expecting it. But if I do get that opportunit­y I’d be there.”

The competitio­n for back row places in Farrell’s Lions squad will be fierce, but Lawes’ belief that he can become a better player – voiced last week – will have been noted by the Ireland head coach.

Whatever happens with the Lions, he leaves a lasting legacy at his home town club where he has developed into one of the greats of English rugby.

“Loads has been written about Courtney’s playing ability and the way he’s evolved in the game. He’s always had the desire and mentality to get better,” Northampto­n director of rugby Phil Dowson said.

“But more importantl­y this season is how much he’s added to our young group. Courts has been there and done that on the biggest stages. Players look to him and that is something that is intangible.

“It’s had a huge impact on the players around the group. He has allowed them to grow.”

 ?? ?? Northampto­n’s Courtney Lawes with the Premiershi­p trophy
Northampto­n’s Courtney Lawes with the Premiershi­p trophy

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