Australia v England: Courtney Lawes and Owen Farrell united over captaincy change
Lawes will lead the tourists into Saturday’s first Test in Perth after retaining the role he performed during Owen Farrell’s injury-enforced absence in the autumn and Six Nations.
Even with Farrell restored at inside centre having overcome his ankle issues, Jones has kept faith with the 33-year-old lock whose calm and thoughtful manner have stood out throughout a period of transition.
As a self-confessed “old geezer”, Lawes insists he is comfortable pushing back against Jones if it is in the best interests of the team.
“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,” said Lawes.
“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.”
Jones has admitted that anointing Lawes as the third significant captain of his reign after Dylan Hartley and Farrell has the potential to cause friction.
Farrell is the dominant figure of a squad he has led since 2018 and his demotion creates a new dynamic, prompting Jones to note that “it’s a difficult situation, but they are both good players, good team-mates and they’re working it out.”
Two very different characters bring with them two very different approaches to the captaincy, but Lawes insists their personalities compliment each other.
“I’ve been working very closely with Owen,” said Lawes.
“That first conversation we had after the captaincy decision was absolutely fine as I knew it would be,.
“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.”
“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,” he said.
Lawes’ opposite number Michael Hooper insists Australia are using their dismal run against England as fuel for Saturday’s series opener in Perth.
“It’s motivation to win and turn the ledger. We have three games at home to do it. It’s been a long time since we’ve played these fellas out here so we’re excited about it,” the captain said.
“History hasn’t been in our favour for quite some time now against the English and we’re keen to rip in.
“This is the top rivalry. Having the Ashes at the back end of last year and this year, the whole of the Australian population gets behind the team whether they’re here or in England.
“It’s about bragging rights so it’s big for the fans and for us. There’s some great history between the two teams. They’re always a tough outfit. They’ve picked a powerful team with some real skill and experience. We’re expecting a tough time.
“We just need to get a couple of wins under our belt. In games of these magnitudes, it’s going to go back and forward and we need to stay in the fight, throw and absorb punches, get back on the front foot and attack these guys.”