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Conor O'Shea stands by his man Chris Robshaw to carry on as England skipper

Published 08/10/2015

Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea has backed Chris Robshaw, pictured, to retain the England captaincy
Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea has backed Chris Robshaw, pictured, to retain the England captaincy

Chris Robshaw can win the fight to continue as England captain, according to Harlequins boss 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 Saturday'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 told Press Association Sport, 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 boss 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, and don't listen to people, 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 for what he has achieved and will achieve.

"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.

"Personally I would love people to be more balanced, for people to understand what these guys have given.

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

"He'll take a week or so to get over it, but when he hits the dressing room, no matter what bad times you go through, we all know, 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.

"I think they are already doing that to be fair, and he's not even back in the dressing room.

"I'm sure there will be tweets and pictures, photo-bombs just to make him feel at home when he comes in, but he'll also get the arm around him.

"He's already had that, and I have so much respect for what he stands for and what he's achieved, and I think anybody involved in rugby does."

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