Saints star Courtney Lawes vows that New Zealand will be able to fully identify England’s players by the end of Saturday’s World Cup semi-final in Yokohama (kick-off 9am UK time).
All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick was on Monday forced to recall the moment he said ‘Michael Laws’ when he was asked which of Stuart Lancaster’s 2014 tourists were known to him.
Michael Laws is a Kiwi politician and former Mayor of Whanganui and Retallick’s failure to correctly name a single England player was perceived as a slight at the time.
“If they don’t know, then they will tomorrow (Saturday), it’s just one of those things mate! We will just get on with it,” Lawes said.
Retallick went on to be crowned world player of the year just months after making the gaff and he was visibly annoyed when asked to relive a moment that saw him propelled into the headlines.
“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,” Retallick said.
“We have great respect for all the rugby players out there. We know who they are and we know what they’re about. We look into every opponent going into the weekend.”
The perception has long been that European rugby makes few waves on the other side of the equator with the Six Nations regarded as a second rate competition, while the Gallagher Premiership barely registers at all.
Lawes admires the All Blacks but insists that England also bristle with power as a titanic clash between the packs awaits.
“We’re excited. None of us have played in a semi-final before, it’s a challenge but we’re very excited to get out there,” Lawes 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, Scott Barrett is a good jumper.
“He’s normally a second row forward and not a flanker, but 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. We have two of the best packs in the world going up against each other.
“It’s a massive occasion and we want to win – we have to win.”