Lawes wary of Scotland halfbacks

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Courtney Lawes has acknowledged Scotland’s halfbacks as a threat England must aim to nullify if they are to win the Calcutta Cup on Saturday.

Eddie Jones’ men take on the Scots in Edinburgh in the NatWest 6 Nations third round this weekend, having already registered wins over Italy and Wales, and despite having not lost to the Auld Enemy in seven meets, Lawes is wary of Greig Laidlaw and Finn Russell.

“He (Russell) is a confidence player so if you let him get confidence early he is probably going to have a good game,” said the Northampton lock.

“99 percent of the games you play in you are going to target the nine and 10, because they run the game. Are we going to target him any more than any other 10? No, but we are still going to target him.

“He is a quality player and we don’t want him to have a sniff at all.”

Discipline crucial

Lawes respects the Scotland fly half’s talent, despite recent criticism for below-par performances in this year’s competition, and knows how devastating the man inside him, in Laidlaw, can be with the boot.

Laidlaw scored 22 of Scotland’s 32 points in round two as they beat France for only the second time in 11 years, and Lawes admits England cannot give the scrum half similar opportunities this weekend.

“Most teams have got good kickers now, it is always something we have to talk about, and we are eager to improve on our discipline in this game,” he added. "Things happen and you have to adjust to referees, but it is definitely something we have to get right this weekend if we want to have the kind of game we want.

“A lot of it is to do with reading referees and what they are picking you up on, and then it is your personal responsibility to not cross over that line.

“We’re not giving away tons of penalties, but we are always working to improve in that area and not give away anything for free.”

Constant improvement

Lawes is one of the most utilised players under the stewardship of Eddie Jones, having featured in 21 of 25 Tests since the Australian took over, and the 28-year-old says elements of his game have developed tenfold in that time.

“My ball-carrying has improved a lot under Eddie, and I’m more of an impact player, I want to add as much impact as I can for my team whether it’s through a carry or tackle, or if it’s getting a maul going forward - that is my job,” he explained. "I still have that impact in the tackle."

“You have to get on the front foot if you’re going to have any success, you have to put in those hard yards early, and that is always an emphasis for us.

“I still have that impact in the tackle, and that is what Eddie wants from me, I’m not just going to fly out of the line and try to take someone out because that is going to put the team in jeopardy."

System team

Scotland have won their last five games at Murrayfield in the NatWest 6 Nations - as many as they had won in their previous 23 in the tournament - and ran number one team in the world New Zealand close last November.

But Lawes is confident in his side, who he describes as playing with consistency, and believes England have a good game plan heading into the clash on Saturday afternoon.

Adding: "We are not a one dimensional team, there are plenty of ways we can manipulate players and teams into success for us.

“We are very much a system team and everyone has to stay in that system for it to work.”