Ollie Lawrence has come out of a dark place lately, but he’s against it. France next Saturday he will willingly throw himself into someone else.
three rounds Guinness Six Nations and Lawrence stands out as one of its most destructive carriers, not only England teammate Ellis Genge proving to be more effective at crossing the payline.
After years of searching for an alternative to Manu Tuilagi for the combat center role, looting shows against Italy and Wales suggest Lawrence could be the answer.
The 23-year-old made his Test debut under Eddie Jones, but was marginalized after failing to convince the Australian, and Worcester took over his club after recovering from a recurring calf injury.
But a player who was not in Steve Borthwick’s original Six Nations roster, which was revived with his move to Bath in October, is taking the tournament by storm.
Challenges against France in Twickenham and Ireland in Dublin in the final two rounds force Lawrence to look within himself to find the inspiration needed to hit brick walls.
“When you play against these top teams, you have to go to another level and find that dark place within yourself to get through it,” he said.
“You definitely have to find that dark place to move. Sometimes you see people in front of you and say, ‘This isn’t going to be so nice!’ you think.
“But if you think about it in the grand scheme of things rather than in the moment, getting that fast ball can turn into a kind of counterattack across the court in several stages. One action leads to another.
“I’ve always enjoyed carrying the ball. As I got a little older, I also enjoyed getting to the other side of the ball, but attacking is something I always enjoy doing.
“One of the aspects of my game is to be able to beat the defenders and try to create one-on-one and two-on-one.”
While England v France are among the most anticipated matches on the international calendar, Lawrence will approach it as if he were playing rugby for the juniors.
“I’m pretty calm and try not to think too much about the upcoming game,” he said.
“I listen to my music and pretend I’m in school. It’s like I see my dad going to the game and act like it’s a normal day.
“I like to treat games the same way so everything is aligned and then in the game, it’s always important to have the ball early, and if you can’t do that, it’s an interception or kick chase that causes a fault.”