Ollie Lawrence believes the financial crisis at Worcester helped provide the fresh start his career needed as he aims to build on his most influential display for England yet.
Lawrence was given instructions by Steve Borthwick to “kick the door down” against Italy on Sunday and he did exactly that by emerging as his side’s most destructive runner.
Inside centre has been a long-standing problem position but Bath’s Lawrence made 83 metres in 11 carries at Twickenham, in the process beating eight defenders – the most by an England centre in any Six Nations match.
The 23-year-old was only called up by Borthwick after injuries to Elliot Daly and Henry Slade, but when given his chance against Italy he reproduced the tackle-busting form shown for Bath this season.
A challenging period saw his 2021-22 campaign interrupted by a recurring calf injury before his club Worcester were placed into administration in October, forcing a move to the Recreation Ground that has been revitalising.
“My injuries have probably one of the biggest things. Re-injuring is obviously frustrating,” Lawrence said.
“But finding out what had happened to Worcester, knowing that we were going into administration, was pretty tough to take.
“I had been there since I was 15 so it’s always been a part of my life and my family’s. That was hard to take, to lose out on a lot of different friendships and stuff. We’ve all had to go in our different directions.
“But I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve had to mature. It’s been a whirlwind over the last six months but I have no regrets so far. Sometimes these things need to happen for you to go into a different position.”
Lawrence was named man of the match for scattering Italy’s defence, with the bulk of his carrying taking place in heavy traffic. Operating alongside Slade, it was cautious evidence that England may have finally discovered an effective centre pairing.
“Steve put my role against Italy as, ‘you’ve got to kick the front door down’. You can understand what he means by that!” Lawrence said.
“My job is to be physical both sides of the ball and support the other players around me and that is what I tried to do – get us over the gainline and get quick ball.
“Owen Farrell has been really good for me over the last two weeks in making sure that I know what I’m doing and he gave me the right balls, so just fed off him.
“Henry outside me is an experienced player – both of them are – so I am happy to be stuck in the middle of them.
“I wanted to get back to playing like how I used to and enjoying it again. I lost the enjoyment a bit because of the injury. When I enjoy my rugby, I usually play well off the back of it.”
England are assessing the facial wound Kyle Sinckler sustained against Italy, which is preventing him from training as part of a 26-man squad named for this week’s three-day camp in London.
It means the Bristol prop is a doubt for the round-three clash with Wales on February 25, but fellow tighthead Will Stuart has recovered from an elbow problem to provide another option in the position.