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VIDEO – Robshaw eyes crucial battle with Warburton

07 March 2014

  • Robshaw relishing battle with rival captain and openside Warburton
  • “You always want to be better than your opposite number” – Robshaw

Chris Robshaw insists England will not be daunted by a Wales starting 15 that features 12 Test British and Irish Lions, instead suggesting his side are hugely excited by the prospect of Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations at Twickenham.

Stuart Lancaster’s team includes just one man with Lions Test experience, with that statistic thanks to Owen Farrell’s five-minute cameo at the end of the series decider in Sydney last summer.

Following the 30-3 defeat in Cardiff a year ago that cost England a Grand Slam, the likes of Tom Wood and Joe Lauunchbury were not selected for the tour Down Under.

England captain Chris Robshaw (R) in action against France

Photo: Getty Images

Skipper Robshaw was another to miss out, but says that set-back is now irrelevant and the key motivation to better his opposite man Sam Warburton will be the bigger picture of a victory for his side rather personal gain.

“Of course you respect [Wales’ Lions] for what they achieved in the summer and the credit they have in the bank,” he explained. “But it’s a massive opportunity for us, coming back to Twickenham.

“We feel we get a real edge when the crowd get behind us and the fans have been fantastic recently.

“You look at any opposition you play and there are always key figures. As players you always want to be better than your opposite number and get on top.

“[Lions selection] is water under the bridge. It’s a new season. There’s always a lot at stake when England play Wales – a lot of pride to start with – and both sides will be out to get a win.”

Graham Rowntree’s pack has been in exceptional form over the course of the tournament so far, niggling scrum worries against France and Ireland failing to detract from hugely dynamic, industrious displays.

Wales and Lions duo Dan Lydiate (L) and Sam Warburton

Photo: Getty Images

With Warburton and Dan Lydiate back to their best as a combination in the 27-6 defeat of France a fortnight ago though, there will be a significant onus on the breakdown.

However, having already faced expert exponents of disruptive rucking this season in Michael Hooper, Richie McCaw and Peter O’Mahony, Robshaw seemed quietly confident of meeting the Welsh threat.

“The breakdown is getting more and more important every game you play,” he added. “When teams get quick ball they can be very dangerous so if you can slow opposition ball down, it becomes harder to create space in attack. It’s as important as the set-piece and there can be momentum changes over the course of a game too.

“You always continue to learn and the more you can play on this stage against the big names, the better you are equipped. You’re always looking for a little edge and that never stops – myself and my England teammates are always looking to be better than we were last week. That’s the aim.

England captain Chris Robshaw delivers a pass in training

Photo: Getty Images

“As forwards it’s about being able to mix our game up well – whether that is hammering home an advantage up front or have that subtlety and skill to offload or execute a three-on-two when we need to. Clarity and game understanding is important too, understanding game situations and what’s needed.”

A first win over Warren Gatland’s charges in four attempts can secure a Triple Crown for England this weekend, something they have not achieved since 2003.

While acknowledging the allure of a first meaningful trophy in his 23-Test career, Robshaw finished by reinforcing the importance of thorough preparation.

“It’d be brilliant – our first piece of silverware that we’ve earned over more than one game. It’d be tremendous. It’s set up for a nice finale and we need to make sure we get the little things right. Getting too wound up won’t help us, we’ve just got to make sure our detail is there.”