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Robshaw wants flexibility


England captain Chris Robshaw, pictured, does not want to have a limited gameplan

England captain Chris Robshaw, pictured, does not want to have a limited gameplan

England captain Chris Robshaw, pictured, does not want to have a limited gameplan

An encouraging autumn proved England have a pack capable of standing toe-to-toe with any opponent, but captain Chris Robshaw cautions against the pursuit of a forward-dominated gameplan.

The Red Rose eight were excellent against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand with Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Robshaw himself among their star performers.

Instead, it was behind the scrum where England toiled, producing a trio of disjointed and ineffective performances outside of the heroics witnessed from full-back Mike Brown.

Once more the midfield spluttered and little threat was evident on the wings and while injury ensures there will be new personal at 11, 13 and possibly 14, the opportunities to shape a meaningful attacking game before the 2015 World Cup are dwindling.

The contrasting output of forwards and backs in the QBE Internationals resulted in calls to adopt a more limited gameplan reflecting their strengths - a strong pack and a fly-half with a strong kicking game in Owen Farrell.

It is an approach that has served England well in the past, but Robshaw insists the modern game demands far greater variety from successful teams.

"The forwards really put their hands up and fronted up in the autumn," the Harlequins openside said.

"(Forwards coach) Graham Rowntree was brilliant about setting our objectives on how we want to be seen and perceived.

"The players stood up. It was our home ground and we really wanted to impose ourselves.

"Quality teams at club or international level have a scrum or maul that they can go back to get penalties and screw the game down.

"But you can't just have that in your armoury because if someone nullifies that then where do you go?

"You have to play in different ways, whether that is quick ball, going wide or through the middle. Pick and goes.

"You must have lots of options and be smart in your attack play."

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With the forthcoming Six Nations serving as the penultimate Championship before England host the 2015 World Cup, it offers a key battleground for head coach Stuart Lancaster.

The heavyweight opener against France in Paris on February 1 is the first of 20 Tests before the quest for the Webb Ellis trophy begins in earnest against Fiji or the Cook Islands at Twickenham on September 18, 2015.

The time for experimentation is almost over and with England having spoken of the progress made during the autumn, Robshaw admits it is important to win their first piece of silverware under Lancaster.

For the last two years, eventual champions and 2015 World Cup group adversaries Wales have come between them and Six Nations glory, most notably last March when the Grand Slam ambition of the Red Rose was shattered in Cardiff.

Robshaw insists it is unacceptable to finish runners-up once again.

"We're pretty happy with the autumn. We came a long way in the three to four weeks we were together," he said.

"There's still a lot more to give. There are areas like accuracy we need to improve on.

"New Zealand were very clinical and that's how we need to be - we have to take our opportunities when they come.

"We've come second in the Six Nations in the last two attempts, so we have to go and win it now.

"We had a disappointing finale last year that didn't quite go our way, but we want to kick on and win it."

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