Courtney Lawes burst onto the international scene as a hard-hitting, athletic lock with the world seemingly at his feet. Now 26, Lawes really needs a big year in 2016 because otherwise he may not get his England place back.
Lawes has good handling skills, uses his height well at the lineout and specialises in dramatic, forceful hits on opposition backs (usually just within the boundaries of legality, see video above), but what he has not become is an engine in the England pack—a forward who regularly makes serious metres. He does the fancy things well but rarely dominate games.
If Lawes doesn’t prove his class in 2016, then one of Saracens’ pair Maro Itoje (who has many of Lawes’ gifts, plus the ability to break tackles) or the improving George Kruis will wrest the white jersey away from him. If so, Lawes, one of the supposed lights of the English game, may never get it back.