Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Robshaw looking to drive England forward

Chris Robshaw, pictured, has been compared to Martin Johnson by Lewis Moody

On December 1, 2012, Chris Robshaw joined an exclusive club of England captains to have beaten New Zealand.

Robshaw is only the sixth member of that club and the first inductee since Martin Johnson, the only captain to have beaten the All Blacks twice. In the eyes of Lewis Moody, Robshaw's predecessor as England captain, that is not the only thing the two leaders have in common.

"I have been very impressed with Chris, he has done an outstanding job," Moody told Press Association Sport.

"As players you want to be inspired. Martin Johnson was never the greatest orator. He always had some words to say but the reason you followed him is because he would die for the team, die for the cause.

"He would throw himself into everything and Chris is very similar. His approach to the game is to just play and he is not worried about the other stuff. He will learn.

"He came in for some criticism in the autumn for his decision-making, but leadership is not something you just suddenly become accustomed to after a handful of games. He is relatively young and he will continue to learn. He is improving game on game. All you can do is perform and that is all you can ask of your captain."

Those decisions haunted Robshaw for a few days. Against Australia he turned down penalty kicks at goal to go in search of a try that never came. England lost 20-14. A week later, Robshaw ordered Owen Farrell to kick for goal with only two minutes remaining when England needed a try to win. They made a hash of the restart and went down 16-15.

"It was definitely satisfying for me, it's always nice to finish on something like that," Robshaw said.

England head into the Six Nations on a wave of excitement following the All Blacks result - but Robshaw has already had to file that memory away. The confidence gained from such a record-breaking performance is vital to the development of the team. But so is the desire, articulated by Robshaw, that England use that result as a launch pad for greater success.

"Last season we were a new squad, new coaches and no one knew what to expect from us," he said. "Now we have a bit more experience and everyone knows what a Six Nations involves. It's about backing up what we did last year. New Zealand is the benchmark of where we want to be as a team. It's where we strive to be."

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