Courtney Lawes revealed in the aftermath of England’s defeat on Saturday night that he will be retiring from Test rugby after this World Cup — ending a stellar international career.
The 34-year-old Northampton forward with 105 caps will go down as one of the country’s finest players of the professional era, having been a stalwart of the pack since his debut way back in 2009.
Lawes is taking part in his fourth global showpiece but the father of four has decided to step down in order to spend more time with his family, although he will play on for the Saints, his home-town club, this season.
‘I’ll be retiring from Test rugby after this World Cup,’ said the man who once again deputised as England captain at the start of this campaign.
‘The kids are at that age where they need their dad around. It will be good to be with them more.
Courtney Lawes will be waving goodbye to a stellar career in the white England Test jersey
Lawes has been an absolute stalwart for England, often picked for his versatility and dynacism
‘I haven’t told Steve (Borthwick) yet! I will let him know. But I’ve said to the boys; anyone that’s asked. I think it’s time. I’ve done four World Cups. I’m pretty happy with that.’
Reflecting on a decorated career at the pinnacle, Lawes added: ‘It’s an end of an era. I’m not an emotional person but it’s been a real honour for me to represent England for so long. It flies by.
‘I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on. It’s not always been the ups, there have been plenty of downs in there, but I’ve pushed through and done my best for the team.’
At this stage, it is unclear whether the veteran, who started out as a big-hitting lock and over time became a multi-purpose blindside flanker, will have one more appearance for England, in the bronze final against Argentina on Friday. The two-time Lion could have played his last Test.
‘To be able to finish with this group is something I’ll treasure for ever,’ he added. ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen with the team, so it might be this was my last game for England. Regardless, we want to finish on a high and send us all off on a good win.’
He was asked what he will miss the most and Lawes replied: ‘As hard as it is being away from your family, you almost have another family. You really feel like that, especially when you’re in World Cup camps. It’s five months, staying with your brothers.
‘I’ll definitely miss the boys, the banter and the stuff we get up to when we’re not training. I’ll miss the hard work and I’ll definitely miss pulling the jersey on and giving it everything.
Lawes competes with fellow veteran Eben Etzebeth as England crash out to South Africa
The 34-year-old will continue to play for Northampton Saints this season, but won’t play Test
‘You can see what it really means for us to play for each other, when you come up against teams like South Africa, everyone thinks you’re going to get slaughtered, and you find another level for each other.’
Lawes has been one of England’s primary assets for the last 14 years and it is a testament to his professionalism that he has played some of his best rugby in his final phase of national service. He was initially known for his fearsome tackling and lineout prowess, but has become a high-quality ball-carrier and distributor too.
Paying tribute, head coach Borthwick said: ‘We could talk about his trademark Courtney Lawes low tackles; that cut attackers down.
‘But what I see in Courtney is someone who covers the ground and, in crucial moments, finds himself in the right place, at the right time, so often. That’s a real sign of the intelligence and the understanding of the player.’
Lawes is popular, universally respected and will be sorely missed. England will struggle to replace a modern-day talisman.
The Englishman will try to finish his career injury free, and wants to spend more time with kids