Courtney Lawes insists England are ready to feed on the emotions of a Parisian crowd looking to push France to win the Grand Slam while putting pressure on the hosts.
England are looking to ease the scrutiny of their under-fire head coach Eddie Jones by preventing Antoine Dupont’s favorites from claiming a first league title in 12 years.
Losses to Scotland and Ireland limit their ambitions to third place, although if they are tumbled at the Stade de France and results elsewhere on ‘Super Saturday’ are against them they will be staring at another disastrous fifth place.
Even without the title in sight, the stakes are high, not least for Jones who, just 18 months from the World Cup, faces renewed questions about his future should they end up bottom again.
But Lawes insists his team are ready to keep fighting for each other, knowing they can play without the burden of expectation.
“It’s a very hostile crowd at the Stade de France and you have to be prepared for that,” said the England captain.
“It’s part of the game to play away on the international stage, especially against a team that’s fighting for the Grand Slam. That’s absolutely fine with us. We can use it for motivation and use it to give us energy.
“You have to change the mentality of the crowd. It was similar in Murrayfield, where we were booed on the way in. You have to prove these people wrong and essentially try to shut them up.
“France are still playing to win the league so essentially all the pressure is on them. We’ve put together a game plan that we think will be very effective.
“For us, the power to play for each other is the best motivation you can have as a rugby player. It’s the most enduring motivation anyway.
“It’s perfect for us to go out there and show what it really means to be part of this group and to be able to play with guys like that for England.”
After a monumental 14-man resistance against Ireland in the fourth round, the side needed to replenish their depleted energy reserves and had a lighter training schedule this week.
It is hoped that the match negotiated by Lawes on behalf of the squad will allow them to take the fight against France.
“We spoke to Eddie as a leadership group on Monday morning and made sure he realized what an emotional blow it is to play a game that requires you to give your all,” Lawes said.
“We want to go out the right way, we want to go out and perform this weekend. To do this, you need to make sure that you are recharging both emotionally and mentally, as well as physically.
“Eddie put together a plan, I shared it with the guys, we made some changes and went to the races. We’re really happy with how it went and hope it bodes well for us.
“It really takes a lot to get back up emotionally after a game like Ireland. When we’ve been knocking each other out all week, it becomes a lot harder to come up emotionally for the weekend.
“In previous years, this communication would not have existed. It shows that we are developing as a team and Eddie is developing as a coach.
“We can all sit down and come up with the right plan, rather than just being told where to go. It’s a really effective way of being a team.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-union/eddie-jones-england-courtney-lawes-france-ireland-b2039389.html Courtney Lawes fueled by Parisian passion as England seek redemption in France