Six Nations 2015: Robshaw seeks trophies to ease pain of Rome

England have not lost to the Irish since Stuart Lancaster succeeded Martin Johnson as red-rose boss

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England head across the Irish Sea on Six Nations business this weekend with one idea in mind: to rise above their recent near misses in the Championship and start hitting some targets.

“It’s all very well picking up caps and playing X number of times for your country,” said the skipper, Chris Robshaw, yesterday, “but, in the end, you’re judged on your silverware.”

Robshaw was not belittling his own achievement in holding down the captaincy for the last three years and clocking up the best part of 40 appearances for his country, but he is heartily sick of finishing second in tournament rugby – a feeling with which he has grown all too familiar since taking on the role in 2012.

“The worst bit about finishing runners-up in last season’s Six Nations was watching it happen on television and being photographed in the process,” he recalled, referring to the painful couple of hours he and his colleagues spent in a hotel in Rome, staring at a small screen as Ireland beat France to claim the title. “We felt pretty helpless, just sitting there. When it was over, we had a beer together and said: ‘We have to learn from this.’


“And I think we have learnt from the experience. I certainly believe we’re evolving as a team – that we understand each other better than we did and that we’re beginning to respond and adapt in pressure situations. We know it will be hard in Dublin: games against Ireland are always tough because they’re very smart in their attention to detail as well as intense in their physicality. So this is about us controlling our emotions and remaining cool and composed, just as we did against Wales in Cardiff in the opening match.”

England have not lost to the Irish since Stuart Lancaster succeeded Martin Johnson as red-rose boss following the failed World Cup campaign in 2011 and Robshaw regards the 12-6 victory in Dublin two seasons ago as one of the most satisfying of his captaincy.

“Owen Farrell did really well, putting us in the right areas, and our intensity was right up there,” he said.

But the side Lancaster names today will be very different: outside the scrum, only the half-back Ben Youngs and the full-back Alex Goode will still be in place, and Goode would not be there but for Mike Brown’s concussion issues.

The absence of the orchestrating full-back Mike Brown is a huge loss for England (PA)

At least there is more continuity up front. The current props, Joe Marler and Dan Cole, together with Robshaw and his fellow flanker James Haskell, were members of the pack that outperformed the Irish eight the last time England travelled to the fair city.

Ireland, meanwhile, are alert to the creativity Goode brings to the visitors’ handling game. “He has some of the best footwork I’ve ever seen when it comes to attacking the line and changing direction,” said Simon Zebo, the Munster wing, who is none too shabby himself on the footwork front. “He won’t take anything away from the threat they pose out wide.”

Scotland have turned to Peter Horne to answer their crisis at fly-half for tomorrow’s match against Italy, which could determine which team ends the competition with the wooden spoon.

The Scotland coach, Vern Cotter, is down to his fourth-choice No 10 after Finn Russell failed this week to overturn a ban for a dangerous tackle against Wales. Duncan Weir and Ruaridh Jackson are missing the entire Six Nations because of injury.

Wales hooker Scott Baldwin will make his first Six Nations start against France after edging out Richard Hibbard for the No 2 shirt.