Monday 23 October 2017

Australia aim to lay down Lawes

New Wallaby skipper Mowen feels England's inexperience in line-out can give tourists edge

Ben Mowen
Ben Mowen

Gavin Mairs

Australia captain Ben Mowen has warned that the Wallabies will target Courtney Lawes' inexperience as a line-out caller as they seek a second consecutive win at Twickenham today.

Northampton lock Lawes has been handed the responsibility of running England's line-out after Lions forward Geoff Parling was ruled out of the game after suffering mild concussion during a training session on Tuesday.

While Parling is widely regarded as one of the most tactically astute line-out operators in the world, Lawes has done it only twice in cameos for England during the tour of Argentina in June.

Lawes (24) has also called line-outs for Northampton this season, but Mowen, who will call the Australian line-out, said yesterday that Parling "would be difficult to replace" for England.

The 28-year-old Brumbies No 8, who will be leading Australia for the first time today following James Horwill's demotion, revealed he spends up to two hours a day analysing line-outs on his computer. And he said his side were ready to "squeeze" the English line-out after insisting there was a huge difference between calling line-outs in practice and the cauldron of Test match rugby.

Asked if England's line-out was an area that Australia could put under pressure given Lawes' inexperience, Mowen said: "It potentially could be, it is a very, very tough environment to call in. Having a couple of years behind your belt in doing it in various pressure situations does help massively. It's one thing to do it in practice, it's another in the heat of the game. That'll be an area we've got to make sure we pressure a lot.

"Losing Geoff Parling... he's a guy I've got huge respect for. A real general of the line-out is difficult to replace. You've got to have a very good understanding of your line-out strengths and the opposition. You've got to be able do it under fatigue and make calls on the run.

"It's a challenging thing to do, very easy to do in practice. Game calling is a different situation all together."

Mowen, who admitted he was surprised by England coach Stuart Lancaster's decision to start Lee Dickson ahead of Ben Youngs at scrum-half, has also vowed to ensure his side strike up a rapport with Irish referee George Clancy.

Mowen has made attention to detail a feature of his two years as captain of the Brumbies and, when he was told on Monday that he would replace Horwill as Australia skipper, one of his key preparations was to analyse Clancy's style of officiating.

"I place a huge importance on it," he said. "You can build a rapport with a referee. If when you meet them they have a good understanding of you, they trust you when you come to talk to them. It goes a long way to getting a result.

"I watch all the clips of his breakdown interpretations, what he awards in defence, how he rewards attack and certain interpretations around scrum engagement and timing.


"My experience with George is that he is very clear about what he wants, so you have to make sure you are very disciplined in the way you execute that."

Mowen's motivation to ensure that Australia are as prepared as they can be to face England can be traced back to the 2003 World Cup final, when, as an 18-year-old watching the game, he was reduced to tears when Jonny Wilkinson landed his match-winning drop goal.

"I have had my eyes set on playing the English since I was young buck growing up," added Mowen. "Over the last couple of years some of the best performances have been backs-against-the-wall against England at Twickenham.

"If we can push for that win and grab that result it is going to be special for us. Take away the leadership – if we get a win at Twickenham that will be one of my proudest moments for sure."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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