Courtney Lawes vows to make up lost ground after being the forgotten Lion

Courtney Lawes might have been last Lion in, but he insists he can have a big impact in South Africa.

The England star is believed to be the player added late by Warren Gatland to expand his 36-man squad to 37.

He is injured and, unlike the rest of the Lions party, was not even sent a ‘save the date’ email by bosses to check his availability.

Yet Lawes, who has 87 caps and featured in two of the Lions’ three Tests in 2017, is convinced he will not only be fit to tour – but to make a key contribution either at lock or blindside.

“We all know it's going to be a huge physical competition,” he said. “We have to be prepared mentally for that kind of physical battle, prepared to put our bodies on the line.

“The Boks have a great lineout and because they're a big and physical pack we're probably going to need someone who is big, physical and can jump in the lineout and be that third option.

“That hybrid player could be ideal for this kind of Test match and I consider myself very different to the other sixes and second rows.

"My main point of difference is my physicality, ball-carrying and hitting. But I'm still good in the lineout. I think that really helped me get on tour."

Lawes, 32, admits it helped also that Gatland knows him and what he can do.

“Gats loves rugby, is constantly watching,” said the Northampton star. “He will have seen that it doesn't take me a lot of time to find my form after coming back from injuries.

“With my experience I've been able to pick up where I've left off from the last couple of injuries. I feel I'll be able to do that again."

It has been some year for Lawes, who missed the autumn to undergo ankle surgery. He battled back to fitness and started for England against Italy in February.

But having kept his place to face Wales a fortnight later, tore a pectoral muscle preparing for the game and hasn’t played since.

“My injury was three months minimum, so I might have not even made it be back in time," he said. "I thought my chances were slim. To be honest I didn’t really have any clue about selection.

“But luckily my surgery went really well, as has my rehab, and I'm on track.”

Gatland omitted long-term injury absentees Manu Tuilagi and Jack Nowell over doubts they would be 100 per cent right on tour.

But Lawes, still two to three weeks off a comeback, has his boarding pass. It is some vote of confidence.

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