CHRIS Robshaw has proved he’s the right man to captain England, according to teammate Tom Croft, who believes the Quins flanker is in the side on merit, not just for his leadership.
Robshaw, who took the armband at the start of last year’s Six Nations, was vilified for England’s to-kick-or-not-to-kick conundrums against Australia and South Africa this autumn, but he showed his character to rally the troops and inspire the infamous victory over New Zealand last month.
Question marks remain, however, amid claims that Robshaw is not a genuine openside flanker and is merely being handed the No.7 jersey for his off-the-field talents, more than those on it.
But fellow flanker Croft, who has only just returned after eight months on the sidelines with a broken neck, is adamant Robshaw justifies his place in England’s starting XV, regardless of who gives the team talk.
“He leads from the front on the pitch and it is nice to have some continuity in the side,” said Croft, speaking in his role as an ambassador for energy supplier SSE.
“He works very well for the team and there are leaders throughout the side in all positions, which is what you need. The captain at seven doesn't need to be making the calls for the backs. You have got the half-backs to help out there.
“I played under him in the Six Nations last year and he has been very successful for us. He is an exceptionally organised person. He doesn't tell you what to do, but instead works with the side.
“You need someone you can admire as a player but also work with and be able to approach and suggest things.”
Croft is not expected to be fit for the start of the Six Nations but will return to challenge both Tom Johnson and Tom Wood for the No.6 shirt by the championship’s conclusion.
He is only too aware of the size of the task he faces to win back his place, however, as he attempts to dislodge those who conquered the All Blacks.
Croft believes that match demonstrated how far England have come since their disastrous 2011 World Cup campaign – and he’s convinced Robshaw must take the lion’s share of the credit.
“The decision he made [against Australia] when he chose to kick for the corner instead of taking the points was a toss-up.
"If you had taken the points quickly enough, secured the ball and worked our way back up the pitch the game was easily winnable.
“On the other hand, if we had driven them over it was a toss of a coin. I thought the criticism he received was very unjust and undue but he took it well.
“He didn’t let it affect his game. He came back against New Zealand and put in a great performance. It is a very fickle world. One week you're the villain and the next you're the hero.”
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