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Rowntree: Lawes now a leader

England assistant coach Graham Rowntree has heaped praise on lock Courtney Lawes ahead of Sunday's potentially crucial Six Nations clash with reigning champions Wales at Twickenham.

Warren Gatland's side famously overpowered England 12 months ago to snatch the Championship in dramatic fashion - but Rowntree is confident that players like Lawes are better equipped to cope with the occasion this time around.

The former England prop told Sky Sports News: "It hurt us a lot, that game. I don't get nightmares any more but I did at the time. The important thing with a game like that is that you learn and move on quickly. I think we've shown from our performances that we have moved on.

"The lineout is a credit to the guys. There are young guys that have come in like Courtney Lawes, who has taken on responsibility for making those lineout calls. Credit to him on that.

"He's thrived on that extra responsibility and is asking for more. The thing is that it doesn't take away from the rest of his game, because I don't want him worrying about lineouts the whole time. He's still playing dynamically, he's tackling well and his breakdown skills are second to none."

Surveying the areas requiring improvement in the wake of a morale-boosting 13-10 victory over Ireland last time out, Rowntree targeted a better showing at scrum-time.

Scrum workout

He added: "As for the scrum, Ireland gave us a proper workout in that area and are one of the best-coached forward packs of recent times. We've got to be better and that's not withstanding that we had a tighthead prop who'd played 47 minutes in two months.

"As a unit, we've looked at how we can improve and we have to do that against Wales this weekend.

"I know what makes these (Wales) guys tick and it was a pleasure to work with them for the Lions, but it's important that we don't allow that to distract us from what we've got to do as a team.

"Those guys weren't British & Irish Lions for nothing. They've got a lot of experience as a unit and have won a lot over the last few years in terms of Six Nations - and been in a World Cup semi-final."