England v New Zealand: Chris Robshaw delighted for chance to measure up with majestic Richie McCaw

'He's probably the guy who epitomises what it is to be an international open-side flanker,' says England captain

Unlike most Englishmen who have been playing Test rugby for longer than five minutes, Chris Robshaw does not know what it is to lose to the All Blacks. "It's a privileged position to be in," he agreed. Unfortunately for the red rose captain, there is no guarantee that he will be feeling similarly privileged come nightfall at Twickenham on Saturday. "I'm sure this game against New Zealand will be tougher than last year's match," the Harlequins flanker admitted.

It may be immeasurably tougher, and the toughest rugby of all is likely to be played by the New Zealand captain, Richie McCaw, who does not take kindly to defeat of any description, let alone the kind of record-breaking loss he suffered in south-west London this time last season.

As McCaw will be Robshaw's direct opponent and happens to have been the standard-setting No 7 in the international game for more than a decade – some of his countrymen consider him to be the best breakaway forward ever; better than the great Michael Jones – we can take it that the England skipper will have his work cut out.

Robshaw was happy to acknowledge the magnitude of McCaw's achievement in the dozen years since the South Islander first wore the silver fern at Test level. "He's probably the guy who epitomises what it is to be an international open-side flanker," he said. "He's played 120-plus times for his country and won more than a hundred of those matches – an incredible statistic in itself.

"A lot of people talk of him as an out-and-out No 7 and of course he is that. But he does so much more, whether it's fielding the high ball, performing the carrying duties, being abrasive in the tackle, reading different situations. He's won a World Cup, won Tri-Nations titles. As a player, you want to emulate that success.

"But we look up to players from our own history too – people like Richard Hill [the World Cup-winning flanker from Saracens]. They did it in an England shirt."

Last year, England faced the world champions in the immediate aftermath of two defeats at the hands of Australia and South Africa – disappointments that had a galvanising effect on Robshaw and company. "We had our backs against the wall and we went out swinging," the captain said, pithily.

The psychological landscape is different this time. The All Blacks are the ones with the point to prove, not least to themselves. That makes them dangerous in the extreme.

"They'll have the bit between their teeth, so we can't go into the game and wait to take a shot at them," Robshaw said. "We'll need to make sure we're in the fight from minute one.

"We'll also need to remember that our victory over them in 2012 didn't just happen. There was a lot of hard work involved; it took a lot of spirit. I believe we've developed as a team since that game and I want us to show it. I don't want us to be saying after the final whistle: 'We lost but it's OK because we won last year.'

"Getting the emotional balance right will be crucial." he added. "Graham Rowntree [England's forwards coach] was telling us this week how he once pumped himself up for a game too early in the week and felt heavy-legged when he actually ran on to the pitch. I think that happened to us when we went to Wales for the Grand Slam match back in March. We allowed ourselves to get too excited, which took it out of us a bit.

"Everyone has been speaking about this game – even friends and family, the people you rely on for some normal conversation when you're trying to get away from rugby. As players, we have to keep our cool until the time is right to get ourselves revved up."

With the back five of the England pack performing strongly, there may be only a single change up front when the head coach, Stuart Lancaster, reveals his hand today.

Dan Cole, the senior tight-head prop from Leicester, is expected to return to the front row after giving way to David Wilson of Bath for last week's meeting with Argentina.

Changes will also be at a minimum outside the scrum, thanks to injury.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions
Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions