Lions and England lock Courtney Lawes has said that the arrogance of New Zealand rugby fans was 'eye-opening' during the drawn series in June.

Lawes made a powerful impact in the last two Tests as the tourists won one and drew the other to deny the hosts the triumph that had been taken for granted by the locals.

The England lock found it a rewarding experience shattering perceptions about the assumed global balance of power.

Lawes said: "Being in New Zealand, we saw the arrogance that their fans have about their team. It was eye-opening. The whole nation are into rugby and things their fans and commentators and pundits said about how we play and how New Zealand play - it was quite... interesting! If we'd listened to all that stuff, we'd have come home after the first weekend."


The British and Irish crusaders did the game at large a favour by puncturing the aura surrounding the All Blacks. Lawes recognised the importance of not being beaten by reputation before a contest begins.

"Any team is vulnerable," he said. "New Zealand are the best team in the world, they have been for some time and you have to respect them.

"But every team has their strengths and weaknesses and any team can be beaten.

"We showed people that no matter what happens, you've got a chance. You can only respect the All Blacks for so long, then you just have to face the challenge."

Having fought his way into the Test 23, Lawes returned home with enhanced conviction about his ability to rub shoulders with the elite of the sport, after a season which featured a significant personal resurgence.

The trip served as a career highlight, but also a useful indication that life as an international player does not have to be a bland existence, devoid of fun.

There was an old-school tour element to it all, with the mid-week team in particular indulging in some spirited socialising.

"I was in that midweek team for a fair bit of it, so I did enjoy that!" said Lawes. "Then I got some game-time in the Tests, which was really good."


Asked if the promotion to the Test ranks meant having to stay sober, he added: "Yeah, you do! There will always be players who are super-professional and players who like to be a bit freer and live how they want to live a bit more.

"It comes down to whatever suits you. I'm pretty far up the do-what-suits-you end of professionalism! I'm as professional as I need to be, that's the main thing."

From a career landmark, Lawes is preparing for another personal one. His wife Jessica is pregnant with twins, who are due to be born in January. The couple already have two children, so there will be a busy home life to go with his burgeoning career.