England Rugby
Lawes: I'm back to my best
Jonny McLeod
April 13, 2013
Courtney Lawes has returned to his best form in recent weeks for Northampton © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Courtney Lawes

Courtney Lawes insists he is close to regaining his best form and ready to reclaim his place in the England team - though he fears it has all come too late to force his way on to the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia.

The Northampton lock endured a nightmare run of injuries in 2012, which meant he made just two substitute appearances for England last year after becoming a stalwart of the team in previous seasons. In his absence Geoff Parling and Joe Launchbury locked down the second-row slots as England continued to make progress under Stuart Lancaster.

Lawes returned in time for the Six Nations but was restricted to four replacement appearances and just one start - a frustrating game at blindside flanker against France. And now he fears a lack of international game time has cost him the chance of tackling the Wallabies this summer.

"I would imagine I will go to Argentina but I am playing well and I should certainly hope I'll be on my best form coming towards the end of the season," he told ESPN. "There is an outside chance of the Lions and if not I will go to Argentina and certainly do my best."

Asked if he thought he would have been close to touring with the Lions if he hadn't suffered such a bad run of injuries, he said: "Honestly yes. But it is one of those things and it just didn't work out that way. You have just got to get on with what has happened. You can't go back. It has been unfortunate for me this time and so many times before.

"It was just a really bad year, from New Years day that year I had four quite major injuries. It was a tough time and it has taken me a while to get back to full fitness. If I would've had a lot of game time over the Six Nations I think I would certainly be back to top form.

"Luckily because of the player I am there are not a lot of other second-rows who can do what I do in terms of the physicality and still be really athletic around the park and in the lineout work. It depends what they want on the team and how well they think I will be playing by the end of the season."

Lawes' injuries last year included a grade three medial ligament injury and a dislocated elbow, as he missed England's tour to South Africa and all but one game of their Six Nations and their autumn internationals campaigns. In contrast Launchbury enjoyed a remarkable rise to the top of the international game. But the Northampton lock is confident he can regain his place in the England team, if he stays fit.

"I have been really unlucky - I always seem to get injured before the international series and my spot always gets taken," he said. "Joe Launchbury has done really well and taken his chances. He is a really good solid player so I will have to work to get my slot back but I know certainly if I get back to where I know I can play I am confident I can get my position back.

"I feel like I am certainly getting back to where I was at my peak. I really do feel like I can push on now and become a much better player. I just need to go how I am going and keep improving as a player and make it so I can't not get picked.

"It is just confidence. Defensively I have always been sweet but in terms of ball carrying, I have been carrying a lot more now and I feel good. So in terms of confidence with my ball carrying and lineout work I feel good at the moment and feel like I can really build now."

Courtney Lawes was talking at the rugby training day that forms part of the Maximuscle Protein Project. To find out more about how you can get involved and the three contestants, visit: www.maximuscle.com/proteinproject

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