Wednesday 13 December 2017

Conor O'Shea: Chris Robshaw is still the man to lead England

Chris Robshaw of England during training
Chris Robshaw of England during training

Chris Robshaw can win the fight to continue as England captain, according to Harlequins boss and former Irish international Conor O'Shea.

Robshaw's club boss has backed the embattled flanker to knuckle down at Quins after his World Cup disaster - then prove all over again why he should lead England.

Robshaw will captain England in tomorrow's dead rubber against Uruguay in Manchester before Stuart Lancaster's side then exit their home World Cup at the pool stages.

Head coach Lancaster and skipper Robshaw will both then be battling for their futures, but Quins rugby director O'Shea backed his back-rower to hold on to the leadership role with England.

"I would always want him to be my captain," O'Shea said when asked if Robshaw should remain England captain.

"We took the captaincy off him at Quins to help him deal with the pressures and now it's clear what those pressures are.

"I wanted him as mentally fresh as he could be, I wanted him relaxed for what we knew would be the toughest period of his life.

"Did anybody pay any attention to the reasons why I made that decision? No. It's why it was done.

"What does Chris need to do now? I'm sure there will be loads of scrutiny, opinion, loads of 'change 15 players' blah, blah, blah.

"But he just needs to play well for Quins, he needs to be successful and then everything will look after itself.

"That's what got him to where he was and that's what will keep him where he is. His ambition will do the same for him all over again."

England have become the worst-performing hosts in World Cup history by failing the reach the quarter-finals.

Lancaster's squad will disperse after the weekend's walkover against part-timers Uruguay, and will be available to start the Aviva Premiership season a week later.

O'Shea said Robshaw is unlikely to feature on the opening weekend however, as he comes to terms with England's unmitigated World Cup disaster.

The Harlequins bo ss revealed he has told Robshaw to stop apologising for England's early exit.


"We're incredibly proud of what those boys have achieved," said O'Shea.

"They came up short - but better to be that man than the man hurling abuse at the pitch.

"I talked to him yesterday, and I said 'you've apologised enough, get on with it, be proud of what you've done, because you're an incredible leader and an incredible rugby player'.

"He has always been damned with faint praise, he deserves a heck of a lot more than that.

"It takes time in sport for everyone to get on with it, but you do because you have to. You want expectation but if you fall short the emotional reaction is going to be what it is.

"People have a duty to be more balanced, rather than just populist.

"He'll take a week or so to get over it, but the dressing room is a great place to be.

"He'll be among friends and he won't mind them taking the p*** in quite the same way."

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