It has been a tough year – Courtney Lawes ready for a rest

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England captain Courtney Lawes stands one match from the end of an epic season admitting that rugby faces conflicting demands that are increasing the burden on players.

Apart from a pre-season break and the time needed to recover from concussion and a thumb injury, Lawes has been playing ever since the Lions’ tour to South Africa over a year ago when he was a starter in all three Tests.

The expansion of a season that now runs from September to July has left a number of Eddie Jones’ squad operating on empty during their tour to Australia, among them Lawes’ fellow Lions Maro Itoje and Tom Curry who have been ruled out of Saturday’s series decider in Sydney because of concussion.

At the heart of the issue is the difficulty marrying the increased number of games being played by Gallagher Premiership clubs with the lower salary cap that depletes playing resources.

“It has been a tough year, the longest season I can remember for a long while. I don’t know about the number of games,” Lawes said.

“The reduction of the salary cap doesn’t help because now we have got less players and we are going to have to play more. It’s tough.

“The Premiership doesn’t want fewer games because fewer games is less money, but at least let us have a squad size where we can rotate and adjust.

“If Saints pick up two injuries in the back row then I’m in, I’m not getting a rest so that is what it is. Things can be done better.”

Given the stage of the season and the need to be ready for a do or die clash with the Wallabies at Sydney Cricket Ground, England are having to strike a careful balance in their training workload this week.

Based next to Coogee Beach, Jones’ squad have taken a measured approach to training in a departure from previous tours when the Australian head coach might have been more demanding in his expectations on the practice field.

“We’ve got to be careful about what we’re doing and have to make sure we get the week right,” Lawes said.

“The leaders and the management got together and spoke about the importance of getting this week right because we can’t taper off as such and not be ready for the weekend, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got something in the tank for sure.

“It’s understanding where you are as a team so we’ll take it day by day. We as players will be honest with Eddie. I’m sure we’ll find the right balance.”

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