Chris Robshaw admits moving on from World Cup misery was never going to be easy
Chris Robshaw has relived the fateful penalty against Wales that ultimately sealed England's World Cup demise as part of his post-tournament healing process.
Speaking for the first time since the hosts crashed out of the global showpiece in October, a rejuvenated Robshaw admits opting for an attacking line-out instead of taking a shot at goal was the wrong call.
Had Owen Farrell landed the kick in those decisive closing moments and the game been drawn, England would have reached the quarter-finals. Instead, they lost 28-25 to Warren Gatland's men and folded before Australia a week later to seal their demise.
It was the biggest call of Robshaw's captaincy and he was heavily criticised in the aftermath, burdening him with the nation's World Cup failure to ensure he returned to Harlequins at a low ebb.
On Sunday he will appear at Twickenham for the first time since England 2015 when Quins host Gloucester in 'Big Game 8' and the 29-year-old is now able to take a measured view of the costly decision made three months ago.
"You look at the way the Wales game turned out and if we had drawn what would have happened," Robshaw said.
"If you had a time machine you'd go back, but unfortunately we don't and you just have to get on with it.
"I accept responsibility for that as I said straight after the game. Don't try and put it on anyone else.
"The Welsh boys at Quins haven't brought it up yet, but I'm sure they will in time!
"Of course you think about stuff like that but you have to move forward. That's probably something I did in the first month, thinking about things, what didn't go well, I would have done differently.
"Once you get past that you start to enjoy your rugby. Then you get a smile on your face and remember what you do as a player. Then you start enjoying the game again."
It was not until Quins' one-point defeat at Exeter on November 28 that Robshaw felt his equilibrium was restored, the wounds of England's World Cup misery taking 56 days to heal, although he knows some of the hurt will always linger.
A recent trip to Brazil has helped put further distance between himself and the calamities against Wales and Australia, while comfort was taken from a conversation with former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick.
"There is no magic cure. You can go away, be with your friends and family, but you do need time. You're playing and trying to do everything, but you're not quite there," the 29-year-old said.
"I went away with some mates to a house in Hampshire where you try and laugh, but while it was good fun, you're still hurting.
"It was with schoolmates I had known since I was 13. It was good fun, but then you come back to training and you are kind of hanging on. So it does take time.
"Unless you have been in a similar situation you probably don't know or understand what the guys are going through. A lot of your mates are like 'come on mate, it's all right'. You say 'I know you mean well'…..
"I spoke to Sean Fitzpatrick a couple of times, and he said 'the sun will come back up. It may take a day, it may take a week, it may take a couple of months but you will be back'. He hit the nail bang on the head. It needs a bit of time."
England's worst performance at a World Cup resulted in the removal of Stuart Lancaster and his assistants, with Eddie Jones installed as the new head coach.
Jones is understood to view Dylan Hartley as his preferred choice as captain and the Australian met for coffee with Robshaw on December 6 to discuss his international future.
The contents of their conversation remains private, but Robshaw insists his sole focus is securing his place in England's back row with blindside flanker his most likely home now.
"Eddie mentioned my coffee shop which I was pretty pleased about, but he forgot the name!" Robshaw said.
"Eddie and I sat down for a chat. He seemed a good guy and hopefully he's got some exciting ideas for English rugby.
"In terms of captaincy, if he continued with me, I'd be hugely honoured to continue doing the role.
"If he goes with someone else, I'll respect his decision and fully support the person in charge. As an individual, I want to be in the England shirt in the Six Nations.
"I want to be achieving and winning, whether that's as captain, as player, as six, seven, eight, as prop or whatever. First and foremost you want to be in the team.
"That's what's important. It's about playing, about being part of it. Whether I am captain or not, it's about what's best for the team."