England: Eddie Jones is hopeful Courtney Lawes can return for the Six Nations amid concussion struggles

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

England head coach Eddie Jones says “the most important thing” is Courtney Lawes’s health, as the skipper has been ruled out of the Autumn Nations Series with delayed concussion effects.

The lengthy effects of concussion mean that Lawes has only featured once this season for Premiership side Northampton Saints.

Given the spotlight on head injuries in the game, it is important for Lawes to be managed carefully and under the guidance of medical advice, as the return-to-play protocols essentially rule him out of the November Tests, including crunch fixtures against the All Blacks and Springboks.

Health first

Jones insists the priority is the health of the England star, which he hopes will make a return to Test rugby for next year’s Six Nations.

“There’s no movement with Courtney at the moment,” Jones said.

“Initially I kept in touch with Courtney but given that he needs some rest now rather than feeling like he has to rush to come back, we are allowing it to take its natural course.

“We are in communication with his medical staff but we are letting him rest and come back. We’re hopeful that he will be back for the Six Nations and ready to go.

“I’m worried about his health at this time – that he gets back to 100 per cent health. But these things have a natural course – some heal quicker than others.

“If it takes a little bit of time, the most important thing is his health and he’ll get back to playing rugby when he’s ready.”

In Lawes’s absence, the captain’s armband has returned to veteran Owen Farrell who led England in their 30-29 loss to Argentina on Sunday.

Jones has taken the blame for the defeat to Los Pumas, citing that he was employing “long-term strategies” with next year’s World Cup in mind.

“Maybe our focus wasn’t tight enough on the Argentina game,” Jones said.

“When I reflect on the game, we’d been looking at a number of long-term strategies that we’re trying to employ to get ourselves set for the World Cup.

“We looked at times like we lacked a bit of energy, particularly in our attack. Maybe we’re just overthinking a bit. That’s entirely my fault.”

More assertive

Jones wants his side to be more assertive and impose themselves on Tests in order to gain control of the contest.

“I want us to be angry and play with a certain sort of anger. In a lot of ways I’m really pleased with how we played against Argentina, even though it wasn’t good enough,” Jones said.

“We dominated territory and possession, but we just weren’t good enough at converting that pressure into points.

“To do that, we need to be a bit more aggressive and assertive in the way that we attack. I’ve got no doubt that we will do that against Japan.

“I want the anger to be under control, obviously. We know Japan always have a fast start – they always want to come out in the first 20 minutes, score early and set the tempo of the game – and we have to meet fire with fire early.”

Manu Tuilagi is a doubt for this weekend’s Test against Japan after leaving the field against Argentina, whilst Raffi Quirke and Henry Arundell have been ruled out of the remainder of the Autumn Nations Series through wrist and ankle injuries.

READ MORE: Loose Pass: The lawbook, mauling and summarising the Autumn Nations Series teams

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