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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence