Robshaw learning from mistakes

  • Last Updated: November 30 2012, 15:15 GMT

England captain Chris Robshaw admitted he has learned some hard lessons about the pressures of international rugby over the last week.

Robshaw: Learned some lessons
Robshaw: Learned some lessons

But the 26-year-old hopes the mistakes he made against Australia and South Africa will only serve to make him a better player and captain against New Zealand tomorrow.

Robshaw's decision-making has been under the microscope after he instructed Owen Farrell to kick a penalty goal when England trailed South Africa 16-12 with just two minutes remaining.

The week before, Robshaw had been criticised for not taking the points on offer and going for the corner as England chased the game against Australia.

Both matches ended in defeat and left Robshaw, who led Harlequins to the Aviva Premiership title last season, facing questions about his captaincy.

"It has been different to previous weeks and it has made me really appreciate the players and coaches and the backroom staff that we have in this squad at the moment," Robshaw said.

"Everyone has been terrific. There have been a lot of lessons for myself to learn and move forward, whether it is decision-making or other things on the pitch.

"Over the last couple of weeks, myself and the other players have learned a lot about international rugby.

"We have learned the hard way and unfortunately that happens in sport.

"We have to take those lessons and look forward. We can't be dwelling on what happened the last couple of weeks.

"We can't feel sorry for ourselves because if you fall off your game for 10 minutes they will hurt us. They can damage you in 10 seconds.

"First and foremost I need to go out and perform. As a captain you will be put under pressure in these situations but the whole squad have been terrific and really supportive."

Tomorrow, Robshaw will lock horns with Richie McCaw, who has led New Zealand to 69 victories in his 78 Test matches as captain, including last year's Rugby World Cup.

"You look at his record and he has won over 100 Tests and that record speaks for itself. He has won the World Cup and leads such a great side," Robshaw said.

"All players look up to someone like that. It is a massive challenge for myself. They will be hard to nullify."

Owen Farrell will start opposite fellow world player of the year nominee Dan Carter after being confirmed as England's starting fly-half against New Zealand.

Farrell has reclaimed the England number 10 jersey for the first time in six Tests after Toby Flood was sidelined by a toe injury he suffered in last weekend's 16-15 defeat to South Africa.

England will otherwise start with an unchanged team, although Northampton lock Courtney Lawes and the uncapped Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns come onto the bench.

It is a decade since New Zealand were last beaten at Twickenham and they will arrive at HQ on the back of a 20-match unbeaten run, having set new standards as world champions.

Although frustrated to have lost to the Springboks, England emerged from their review of that game with confidence enhanced given the way they played.

England met the physical Springbok challenge and won the scrum battle but ultimately lost the game because of a fortuitous try scored by Willem Alberts.

It was a markedly improved performance from the 20-14 defeat to Australia the week before.

Even when Robshaw decided to kick that late penalty to the posts, England would have still had a chance to win had Mouritz Botha not fumbled the restart into touch.

For all the stick Robshaw has taken over that decision, he led from the front heroically against the Springboks - topping the ball-carrying and tackling charts.

"People always say whenever you play South Africa it is the most physical challenge you ever play but it will be a step up tomorrow," Robshaw said.

"It will be very different. New Zealand are one of the smartest sides. We have to match that physicality at the breakdown but it is about moving our game forwards once again."

One area in which England have struggled this autumn - the win against Fiji apart - is in attack and their ability to finish off chances.

And Mike Catt, the attacking skills coach, insisted England must be clinical against the All Blacks or they will be punished.

"It is vital we don't make those errors in attack," said Catt.

"If you watch the Wales against New Zealand game, that is where New Zealand really took advantage.

"It is making sure we are accurate and clinical in what we do. There will be opportunities out there and we have to make sure we take them.

"We have to put in a full 80-minute performance. You can't go to sleep for five or 10 minutes because they will batter you.

"That is the main thing for us, making sure we are on the ball continually for that full 80."


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