WORLD Cup winner Lewis Moody insists its performances and not results that will be occupying the mind of England skipper Chris Robshaw ahead of a punishing four-week autumn international schedule.
Robshaw was last week given the nod by England boss Stuart Lancaster to lead out the national team at Twickenham this autumn – a decision helped by an injury to Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley.
The honeymoon period is now officially over for Lancaster and Robshaw, and an expectant Twickenham crowd will demand the Red Rose deliver against Fiji, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
But Moody insists it’s all about building for the World Cup in 2015 and not about short-term results in the autumn, demanding that Robshaw should be judged for all the right reasons.
“He has done a fantastic job since being handed the role by Stuart Lancaster and the results speak for themselves,” said former England skipper Moody, who was speaking at the launch of the LV=Cup.
“Ideally, we would like to see England whitewash all it comes across this autumn but will it happen – I don’t think so and I don’t think Stuart (Lancaster) or Chris (Robshaw) should panic.
“Australia we have beaten the last two times we have played them, so they will be desperate to beat us.
“South Africa is a big bunch of bruising individuals who will come here and physically dominate as the boys found out in the summer, while New Zealand brings a full strength squad, who are no doubt the best team in the world right now.
“I think Chris knows that what he is building towards is the 2015 World Cup and he is very aware that it is a process to get there.
“Those boys will want to win every game and they have an opportunity to do so but I think it will be a particularly hard autumn for them.”
Robshaw was criticised for his performances in South Africa this summer, many fans and pundits alike questioning Lancaster’s insistence to play the Harlequins man at number seven and subsequently rob England of a genuine openside.
With Lancaster having an avalanche of backrow forwards at his disposal – Tom Croft, Tom Wood, Nick Easter, Ben Morgan, James Haskell, Tom Johnson, Phil Dowson and Thomas Waldrom – Moody has called on Robshaw to concentrate on his own game first-and-foremost to guarantee selection.
The fact Lancaster left his decision to name Robshaw as England skipper for the autumn so late highlights the competitive nature of the backrow and also the need for the Harlequin to keep performing.
But Moody insists the England captaincy is in good hands long-term and backed Robshaw to make his mark.
“Chris is captain but he isn’t even guaranteed to start and that is what it should be like,” added Moody. “Every player should be pushed no matter who they are and without a doubt it was the correct decision.
“Chris Robshaw is a first class player but also the way he handles himself off the pitch and with the media is fantastic.
“People gave him some stick for not being an out and out No.7 but I think he took that on board and worked very hard on his game.
“He is great on the ball and his work rate around the park is fantastic and he is very deserving of that position.”
The LV= Cup kicks off on Friday, 9 November. Watch the next generation break through. For tickets and info, visit www.lv.com/rugby