England’s Courtney Lawes says his willingness to “challenge” coach Eddie Jones was key in him retaining the captaincy.
Despite Owen Farrell’s injury return, Lawes kept the captain’s armband after leading the side in the Autumn Nations Series and Six Nations.
Farrell unhappy over captaincy decision
Jones admitted that Farrell was unimpressed after not reclaiming the leadership role he had held for an extended period under the Australian-born coach.
However, Lawes is open to speaking his mind, and he believes that is a core reason why he retained captaincy.
“Eddie wants to challenge himself. If I’m honest, I’m probably skipper because I think differently to him and I’m willing to challenge him as a leader. I think that’s why he’s kept me on,” Lawes said.
“I’m a old geezer now and don’t mind saying what’s on my mind. I think he liked that approach.
“I’m more than willing to essentially get a feel of what the team needs. The coaches will have a feeling for what the team needs and then we’ll come to a compromise from there, instead of it all being one way in terms of we just do what the coaches say.
“I’ve made a lot of the lads comfortable around the team and that’s the team environment we want.”
Lawes says there is no friction between him and Farrell whilst admitting that he anticipated the outspoken veteran to slot back into the role.
“I’ve been working very closely with Owen. That first conversation we had after the captaincy decision was absolutely fine as I knew it would be,” he revealed.
“If I’m honest, I expected Owen to get the role back and I was more than willing to… We work so well together. We’re almost polar opposite but in a good way.
“We find a pretty good balance and we’ll be keeping that, it’s just that I keep the armband this time and we’ll see what happens going forward.
“It feels great and being in this role is certainly something that I cherish. But it’s not just going to be me making all the decision on the field. It’s great to be able to contribute as much as I can to the team.”
Expects tough battle against Australia
The England captain is expecting a challenging outing against the Wallabies, who will be raring to go and end an eight-match losing streak against the Red Rose.
“We generally match up pretty well against them, but you can’t take anything for granted, especially when you’re playing them in Australia. It’s the middle of their season so they will be raring to go and in peak form,” added Lawes.