Loyal Stuart Lancaster ignores doubters to retain Chris Robshaw in role of 'general'

England coach confirms Quins flanker will retain captaincy for upcoming Six Nations campaign

Stuart Lancaster backed his own expertise as a student of human nature when first confronted by the England captaincy issue almost exactly a year ago, and precious little has happened in 12 breathlessly hectic months to persuade him that his initial decision requires revisiting. Tonight the red-rose coach confirmed that Chris Robshaw, the Premiership-winning Harlequins flanker, would continue in the role for the forthcoming Six Nations, which begins with the Calcutta Cup match against Scotland at Twickenham in 11 days' time.

Robshaw had his uncomfortable moments during the recent autumn international series against the cream of the southern hemisphere crop: twice in consecutive matches, against Australia and South Africa, his on-field decision-making was called into question. His critics accused him of being caught in two minds – sometimes three – over taking penalty shots at goal, and after the narrow defeat by the Springboks there was much talk of a change, with the Northampton back-rower Tom Wood fast emerging as favourite.

But in reality, Robshaw was never under threat: Lancaster is not the sort to switch horses in mid-race, and once the All Blacks were put firmly in their place in the final match of the series, the skipper's position was doubly secure.

Wood, outstanding in that game against the New Zealanders, will remain a valued part of the senior players' group – the "generals", as Lancaster calls them. So too will another captaincy candidate for the future, the hooker Dylan Hartley, who led England in Robshaw's absence against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth last June. However, the Northampton captain has enough on his plate dealing with the threat to his starting role posed by Tom Youngs of Leicester, one of the big winners during the autumn Tests.

Meanwhile, another England newcomer, the Gloucester outside-half Freddie Burns, will have a scan on damaged knee ligaments over the next couple of days, the results of which will determine his chances of playing a part against the Scots. Burns, who won his first cap against the All Blacks and had himself a ball during the 17 minutes he spent on the field, picked up the injury while on European club duty against Mont-de-Marsan last week.

The current fear is that he will be incapacitated for around three weeks and if that is confirmed, he will struggle to make the cut for the second Six Nations game against Ireland in Dublin. Lancaster will not be overly concerned, given the current form of Owen Farrell and Toby Flood, the other No 10s in the elite squad. However, Burns is a different kind of operator and brings a welcome attacking dimension to the England midfield.

On the club front, Bath have signed the veteran Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer on loan from Munster. The 35-year-old Heineken Cup winner, capped 98 times by his country, will spend the next couple of months with the West Countrymen, who have been hit by a series of injuries in the position.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried