Tuesday 19 September 2017

Chris Robshaw set to captain England for Barbarians match

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: England captain Chris Robshaw looks dejected after his teams defeat during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on September 26, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: England captain Chris Robshaw looks dejected after his teams defeat during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on September 26, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Nick Purewal

Chris Robshaw has admitted he was unsure whether he would ever lead England again after the 2015 World Cup.

Robshaw will captain England for the first time since that World Cup upset, in Sunday's clash against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday.

The Harlequins flanker will share skippering duties with George Ford, and is relishing the chance to lead England for the first time in almost two years.

Robshaw was stood down from the England captaincy on Eddie Jones taking the helm after the World Cup, but the 30-year-old has since steadily reaffirmed his standing in Jones' squad.

Asked if he had been unsure whether he would ever receive the captaincy again, Robshaw said: "Yeah, I wasn't really sure, but I can tell you I'm looking forward to doing it now.

"There's a huge amount of potential in this young side, and it's the perfect preparation for us to go over to Argentina.

"The World Cup was a long time ago now, and as soon as Eddie asked myself and George we were both looking forward to it.

"It's a new challenge for us both, and we're excited and looking forward to Sunday."

Robshaw's very Test future had been plunged into doubt after the dismal 2015 World Cup campaign, where England became the worst-performing hosts in tournament history.

His situation became more clouded after the departure of Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team, when Jones took the helm and swiftly appointed hooker Dylan Hartley as his captain.

But Jones took Robshaw out for coffee, to explain that decision - and tell the hard-grafting back-rower to fight to secure his place in the England set-up.

England then set about building a record 18-Test winning streak, with Robshaw proving pivotal to a new-look back row and having shifted to blindside flanker.

Jones was left to brand Robshaw his "glue player" in the all-conquering England line-up, so revitalised had the Harlequins man become.

And now Jones' decision to hand Robshaw the armband - even jointly - for the Barbarians clash underscores once again his importance to England, both on and off the field.

England must face the famed invitational without a raft of senior players, a host of whom are on duty with the British and Irish Lions.

Northampton are embroiled in a Champions Cup play-off on Friday, while Exeter Chiefs and Wasps will contest Saturday's Aviva Premiership final.

England held a minute's silence in training on Thursday at their Pennyhill Park base, in tribute to those killed in the Manchester terror attack on Monday.

The Rugby Football Union expects to boost security around Twickenham this weekend, with head coach Jones ready to react to further guidance.

"I know we're going to get some sort of report on security over the next couple of days," said Jones.

"We showed our respect today with the minute's silence, and players will wear black armbands on Sunday.

"We were deeply saddened by the affairs and for the people involved."

England discard Alex Goode will play for the Barbarians against Jones' side, with the national boss delighted to see the Saracens full-back seizing the opportunity.

Asked if he was pleased to see Goode jump at the chance to prove a point against England, Jones said: "Absolutely, it's great to see him get in there straight away. That's what you want.

"Goodey's a good player, I know him well, I coached him at Saracens, I like him as a player and I hope he plays well for the Barbarians - but not too well though."

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