- Robshaw praises strong leaders around him in team
- England will not underestimate Italy, says captain
Chris Robshaw has led England to three victories from three in the 2013 RBS 6 Nations, scooping Man-of-the-Match awards against Ireland and France along the way.
The individual accolades have arrived due to continued indomitable performances in which he is consistently among the top three for tackling, carrying and hitting rucks but also for his calm and considered leadership which has permeated through Stuart Lancaster’s England team.
The 26-year-old was the overwhelming winner in a Facebook poll for “moment of the match” for his leadership in the face of Irish provocation in Dublin and whether it was that or the arm around the shoulders of a pumped up Owen Farrell against France, Robshaw has shown new maturity as a skipper.
The Harlequins back row believes delegating roles to the other leaders in the team allows him take an overall perspective on his captaincy decisions and the team’s self-control has helped them through difficult situations in this year’s tournament.
“You have a great group around you which helps make it easier, then you take an overview on a few things,” said Robshaw, who has led England on 14 occasions. “I’m surrounded by great players and great leaders and it always helps.
“Like with anything, the more you do it the more experience you get, you learn from the tough times and you learn from the good times. You learn from playing against other captains, Richie McCaw or Jean de Villiers for example, guys who have been around and captained on the world stage. You try to pick up tricks and traits and add them to your game.
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“You look back at the France game and we didn’t start well, we were sloppy and slow out of the blocks. But there was never any panic from the guys, they always had that belief, that composure and we managed to pull away at the end.”
The tough times Robshaw refers to is the intense scrutiny on his decision-making which followed the QBE Internationals defeats to Australia and South Africa last autumn. While those days seem far away after four straight victories, the Harlequins captain is not the sort of character to get too overexcited when people are praising him, or conversely be too affected when he is being criticised.
With Italy next up at Twickenham on Sunday, that attitude will ensure England approach the game in the correct manner, with some sections of the media billing the game as an easy win.
“You try not to really listen to it or pay attention to it as players. As players you want to keep on improving and to do that you have to pay respect to all opponents,” he added.
“Italy have come on a long way. When they first came into the tournament they were getting beaten 70 or so nil. But we went over there last year, had a massive test and nearly lost the game. We will treat them with the upmost respect and will not be taking them lightly. They set the standard for this year’s Six Nations in beating France. It’s a tight tournament and anyone can beat anyone.”