England veteran Courtney Lawes has confirmed that he will hang up his boots at Test level following the third-place play-off at the Rugby World Cup this weekend.
Lawes has been a regular player for England for the most part of the last 15 years, representing his country at four different World Cups and playing over 100 games.
His form for club and country earned him a spot in two British & Irish Lions tours during the course of his Test career.
“End of an era”
The 34-year-old joked that he had not told head coach Steve Borthwick yet before reflecting on the honour of playing for the Red Rose at the global showpiece.
Lawes said: “I haven’t told Steve yet! But I will let him know.
“I’ve said to the boys, anyone that’s asked. I think it’s time. I’ve done four World Cups, so I’m pretty happy with that.
“It’s a bit of an end of an era, 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. Plenty of downs in there, but I’ve pushed through.
“I’m not an emotional person really, but it’s just been a huge honour for me.
“To be able to finish with this group, it’s something I’ll treasure forever.”
It was so close for the Red Rose, who appeared to have the Springboks’ number throughout the semi-final last weekend, only for the defending champions to find a way to steal the game through a Handre Pollard winning penalty, claiming the victory by just a point.
“It’s one of those where we thought we had it, but let it slip away at the same time,” said Lawes.
“But we’ve proved a lot of people wrong. You give it all you’ve got. It’s sport, isn’t it?
“That’s what it means at the highest level. You get a couple of things wrong and get punished.
“But a lot of people thought we’d have struggled, and in the end we were unlucky to lose.”
It has been full circle for the versatile forward with Borthwick playing when Lawes made his debut in 2009. Now the current superstar bows out of the Test scene with him as his coach.
Lawes praised Borthwick and the England group for what they have achieved at this tournament despite being written off.
“We showed to everyone what it means to play for this team,” he said. “Play for your country and the boys alongside you.
“I think people can see now what a good coach he is – and where this team can really go.
“We want to finish on a high. It’s important for us to finish properly and send us all off on a good win.”
Whilst Lawes admits that he will miss “pulling on the jersey”, it is time to be at home with his family.
“The kids are at that age where they need their dad around,” he said.
“It will be good to be with them more, to provide some well-needed structure to the mob.
“As hard as it is being away from your family, you almost have another family.
“You really feel like that, especially when you’re away in camps like World Cup camps. It’s five months, staying with your brothers.
“I’ll definitely miss the boys, the banter and all the stuff we get up to when we’re not training. I’ll miss the hard work as well.
“And I’ll definitely miss pulling the jersey on and giving it everything.”