England wing Mike Brown believes Chris Robshaw’s outstanding leadership ability was clear to see as the two progressed through the ranks at club-side Harlequins, with the current England captain being described as a “brilliant leader” by his international teammate.
Robshaw’s rise from Premiership new boy to England captain has been hugely impressive, with the flanker putting himself in prime position for the British and Irish Lions captaincy when they tour Australia later this year. Since his debut for Harlequins in 2007, he impressed head coach Stuart Lancaster enough to be awarded with the England captaincy in January last year following the debacle that was the 2011 World Cup campaign, despite only holding a single cap before the announcement.
In a man-of-the-match display at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, Robshaw demonstrated remarkable maturity and composure to carry the Red Rose to their first victory in Ireland since 2003. It is clear that Brown holds his captain in high esteem, and he has revealed that his reputation among his peers was secured many years ago.
“Chris has stayed the same person, even with the captaincy,” the full-back-turned-wing said. “He still works hard and is a brilliant leader and does for England exactly what he does for Quins. It’s great to have a leader like that who sets the example and you follow. When he needs to say something he will.
“He’s a great bloke as well – I’ve known him since I was 18. When we were in the academy we were asked who would we pick as a future captain and we all chose Chris. Now he’s England captain.”
Robshaw’s growing list of accolades looks set to continue with his England side sitting top of the 6 Nations as the only side left undefeated. Having led Harlequins to a maiden Premiership title last year, he has also been awarded the Aviva Premiership Player of the Year award on two separate occasions, in 2008/9 and again last season.
England host the wounded-and-winless French at Twickenham next weekend, but Brown is wary that although they have gone from pre-tournament favourites to bottom of the table, they still pose a formidable challenge.
“France haven’t had the best of starts, but they’re a brilliant team who on their day can beat anyone in the world,” recognised Brown. “Look at how many times they’ve beaten New Zealand when everyone’s written them off, so they’ll be a tough, tough test.
“They have brilliant players throughout their squad and will be a wounded animal, which makes them very dangerous. But the boys are looking forward to it and hopefully we can do a job. It will be a massive test.”
Speaking at the launch of the biggest ever campaign to get England playing Touch Rugby, Brown was joined by fellow internationals Brad Barritt and Alex Goode, as well as Strictly Come Dancing’s Flavia Cacace. The launch is part of O2 and the Rugby Football Union’s programme to broaden the reach and appeal of rugby, with touch being identified as a key focus area to create a lasting legacy after the 2015 World Cup.
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