- England head coach says being a certain starter was vitally important
- “Chris is an exemplary professional with a great work ethic” – Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster has praised Chris Robshaw’s “exemplary” professionalism and explained that, once the Harlequins skipper had demonstrated some strong club form this season, the decision to reappoint him as England captain for next month’s QBE Internationals was straightforward.
Since the 2012 RBS 6 Nations opener at Murrayfield, Robshaw has led his country in 16 out of their last 19 Tests – only missing the final match against South Africa last June and this summer’s tour of South America.
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And while admitting that Tom Wood did an excellent job throughout the 2-0 series defeat of Argentina, Lancaster suggested Robshaw's familiarity with the role – as well as a certain place in his starting fifteen for the clash against Australia at Twickenham on November 2 – was vital.
“The primary objective when you’re selecting your captain is to make sure the person can guarantee their place in the team,” he said after the third day of England’s camp in Leeds.
“Chris’ form this year so far has been good and he is on the back of a strong season for us. Going into the end of the season I thought it was right to give him a rest and he has come back fresh and reinvigorated.
“He can look the others in the eye and know that he is a justified part of the team. He has also got to lead from the front in terms of his standards, which he does. He’s an exemplary professional with a great work ethic. All of those component pieces put together make him hard to ignore.”
“Experience helps everyone get better, too. Me as a coach, the players – we’re all relatively new to international rugby together as a group from January 2012. He has the respect of the players and knows he doesn’t have to try too hard to be captain because there is a great group of leaders behind him.”
True to his trusted philosophy of meritocracy – each player showing they truly deserve their place – Lancaster did insist that Robshaw would not be able to rest on his laurels, especially with the raft of young back-rowers in contention.
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“You have to justify your place in the team – Matt Kvesic did really well in the summer and Will Fraser and Luke Wallace will come through and put pressure on as well,” added the England head coach.
“As we’ve seen with other players, you never say never to anyone. I wanted to make sure he could justify his place in the team – he had some things to work on in his game. He’s done that.
“Once I was happy at that point, it became a question of whether he was ready to continue and he clearly was.”