Robshaw lauded as England ponder captaincy

2016-01-13 22:32
Chris Robshaw (AFP Photo)

Twickenham - Chris Robshaw found himself in the unusual position of receiving praise from Eddie Jones as the Australian unveiled his first England squad on Wednesday.

Jones was appointed after England ditched former coach Stuart Lancaster following a woeful World Cup where the hosts crashed out in the first round.

Robshaw, England's captain during the tournament, found himself under fire both for his decision-making and play wearing the number seven shirt as openside flanker.

Jones, who at the World Cup coached Japan to a sensational win over South Africa, labelled Robshaw "a six-and-a-half", saying the Harlequins star was more suited to playing at blindside flanker.

Robshaw has been performing well in the number six shirt for London club Harlequins so far this season and Jones said on Wednesday: "We are not going to have any six-and-a-halves.

"We want a six and a seven. Chris Robshaw has been doing exceedingly well at six -- maybe because he's got half a number off his back. He's been playing brilliantly and will push very hard to get into the team at six."

Jones decided against naming a captain on Wednesday ahead of England's Six Nations Championship opener away to Scotland on February 6.

"We've got 33 players (in the squad)," Jones told a Twickenham news conference.

"That goes down to 23 players (on a matchday), that goes down to 15 players (in the starting side).

"When we've got 15 players, then we'll worry about the captain."

Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley has been spoken of as a possible England captain despite a disciplinary record which has seen the New Zealand-born front row suspended for 54 weeks during his career, with his most recent ban prompting Lancaster to leave him out of the World Cup squad.

"He (Hartley) is one of the 33 players at the moment," said Jones.

"If he gets down to 23 then he gets down to 15, then we'll worry about those things."

Jones, Australia's coach when they lost to England in the 2003 World Cup final, did outline what he wanted from a skipper.

"Your captain's got to be your best player," he said. "He's got to be one of the first selected in the team, and then he's got to lead by example.

"He needs to set standards for the team in terms of how we operate off the field, how we operate on the field, and he's got to be a conduit between the coaching staff and the players."

With seven uncapped players in a 33-man squad missing 10 of those who played for England at the World Cup, Jones's first selection certainly had a new look to it.

But he was cautious when asked if England fans could expect "radical" change at Murrayfield next month.

"How do you define radical?," he said.

"Radical for me would be playing really good rugby -- doing all the simple things of the game well.

"When you get an opportunity to move the ball, you move it with crispness, accuracy and speed. That's what we are attempting to do."

Read more on:    eddie jones  |  chris robshaw  |  rugby

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