Chris Robshaw has had his fill of setbacks just lately – a humiliating Grand Slam pratfall with England, a deflating Heineken Cup exit with Harlequins and a soul-destroying failure to make the British and Irish Lions tour party – but the cruel gods of rugby may not have finished with him yet. Many were predicting that Stuart Lancaster, the national coach, would leave the red rose captain out of his squad for next month's two-Test series in Argentina.
Having lost nine of his leading internationals to the Lions, who embark on the glamour trip to Australia later this month, Lancaster was expected to promote a number of uncapped players, including the Wasps wing Christian Wade, the Gloucester back Jonny May, the Saracens centre Joel Tomkins and the Worcester flanker Matt Kvesic.
The burning question surrounded Robshaw, who has been struggling with injury and is overdue quality rest and recuperation, having played more big-time rugby, under greater pressure, than any of his peers.
The Harlequin made clear that he wanted to face the Pumas, adding that he would be speaking to Lancaster on the subject. "It's the boss's call and I'll respect whatever he decides to do," said the game's hardest-working flanker. "But you always want to play for your country, don't you?
"We'll both say our piece and I'll listen to his point of view. Sometimes you get caught up in playing, and it's easier for other people to see the bigger picture. He'll make the call he feels is right for me."
If Robshaw, optimistic of regaining fitness in time for this weekend's Premiership semi-final at Leicester, is wary of being given a break during the June tour window, he has good reason. Another England captain, the Saracens lock Steve Borthwick, was left off the 2010 trip to Wallaby country for "player welfare" reasons… and never played for his country again.
Robshaw freely admitted that he had been hurt by his Lions rejection. "Of course it's tough when you think you're in with a good shout," he said. "I spoke to Graham Rowntree [the England forwards coach, who helped pick the Lions squad] and he said I was close to selection, but that's not really a consolation, is it?
"The great thing was that Graham was very honest with me and didn't try to sugar-coat it. Instead of telling me the odd white lie, he told me the truth. I think that's always best. It's hard to get into the Lions: when you look at the phenomenal competition in the back row, you understand why selection is so special. If you don't quite make it, you have your little sulk and move on."
Another player deeply unfortunate to miss the British Isles cut, the Wales midfielder James Hook, will be part of the Barbarians squad currently being pieced together for the meeting with the Lions in Hong Kong on 1 June.
Lions sorry for animal tweet
The British and Irish Lions have apologised for "any offence caused by recent and inappropriate tweets" on @lionsofficial – which has more than 91,000 followers. Two recent tweets have been removed, including one which featured a photograph of an injured animal. The Lions embark on a tour of Australia this summer.Reuse content