'Michael' Lawes will make sure Brodie knows his name
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: England lock Courtney Lawes is confident the All Blacks will know exactly who England’s players are come the end of their World Cup semifinal on Saturday.
Four years ago, during an England tour of New Zealand, All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick replied “Michael Laws” when asked if he knew any of the visitors’ squad – something the lock was reminded of this week.
Michael Laws is a New Zealand politician.
“If they don’t know, then they will tomorrow, it’s just one of those things mate!” Lawes told reporters at Yokohama Stadium on Friday.
“We will just get on with it,” the towering Northampton forward added.
Retallick, however, was far from amused when reminded of his error during a press conference on Monday.
“Is that supposed to be humorous? I made a mistake, called them the wrong name, the name of a New Zealand politician. Good on you,” said Retallick.
“We have great respect for all the rugby players out there,” he insisted. “We know who they are and we know what they’re about.
“We look into every opponent going into the weekend.”
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New Zealand are bidding to win a third successive World Cup title and fourth in total.
By contrast, England – world champions in 2003 – haven’t been to the last four since losing in a Paris final to South Africa 12 years ago.
“We’re excited,” said Lawes. “None of us have played in a semifinal before, it’s a challenge but we’re very excited to get out there.”
The 30-year-old, a veteran of 81 Tests, added: “I like to take every game like it is, which is a rugby game, and go out there and enjoy.
“Obviously it’s a massive occasion and we want to win, we have to win.
“But I like to go out there and treat every game like it’s your last game.”
Fordy and Faz
New Zealand have brought Scott Barrett into their back row in what appears in part to be a move to negate England’s line-out strength.
But Lawes, a key figure for England at the set piece, said: “They have gone with a pretty big pack. That’s fine with us. We are used to that.
“In terms of the line-out [Barrett] is a good jumper.
“He’s normally a second-row forward. But I think we have addressed that and have the callers and jumpers to deal with it. They have a great pack and have a lot of great players across the board – but so do we.
England have recalled flyhalf George Ford in the only change to the starting side that overpowered Australia 40-16 in last week’s quarterfinal.
Owen Farrell, the England captain, has moved from flyhalf to inside centre, with Manu Tuilagi now at outside centre.
It is a combination England have deployed before, however, and fullback Elliot Daly said: “There are changes from the last game but 10-12-13 have played a lot together and obviously ‘Fordy’ [Ford] and ‘Faz’ [Farrell] have played a lot of rugby together as well.
“They know each other better than anybody going into this Test match.”