Taking some time out of an event organised by Alfa Romeo at Brand’s Hatch, Harlequins captain and England Saxon forward Chris Robshaw spoke to The Rugby Blog’s Ben Coles on his chances for national selection and Harlequins’ good run of form.
You’re on a great run of form at the moment, what would you say has brought that on?
We’ve always prided ourselves on being a team that can play rugby but I think in the last few weeks what’s changed is that we’ve realised that playing a touch more conservatively isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s no shame in kicking the ball out of your 22 and playing with a bit more control. I think that and the fact that there’s been a lot of hard work from all the players, especially our tight five, has got us into the position we’re in right now
I think the one game that really stands out from this run is the win against Northampton, what’s your personal recollection of that game?
Well I think the first thing is you always get an amazing atmosphere when you go up to Northampton, and we knew it would be a massive challenge. But our game plan of stopping them getting quick ball really came off, we managed to slow down their ball and really fronted up as a forward pack. We got a couple of lucky breaks but you need a bit of luck in those big games, and playing sensibly when the clock was running down and we were down to 13 men paid off as we managed to hold them out.
Whilst we’re talking about Quins what are your thoughts on the game in Abu Dhabi?
Yeah it’s great for the club to go over there and experience a different type of market, and it’s great to see rugby growing as a sport. Fingers crossed it will be a success, and we will have to remember that we’re going over there to do a job, we can’t get carried away thinking we’re on holiday the whole time. We’ll have to be sensible and train hard, and obviously there will be some time off by the pool or at a waterpark but we’re going out there to do a job and hopefully get a win.
Moving on to England, with Tom Croft out injured how do you rate your chances of selection?
Well I’m still in the Saxons at the moment, so I’ve just got to keep working on my game. You never wish an injury upon anyone but it’s a great way for people to step up and for Martin Johnson to test the depth of the squad. As long as I keep playing well for Quins then I’ll be in with a chance of selection.
Do you feel the way you’re playing right now that you’re in good enough form to be selected?
Yeah I feel like I’m in good form along with the rest of the boys at club. We’ve all stepped up, from those boys on the pitch to those coming off the bench, and the better and the more consistently you play well the likelier you are to get selected.
How often are Johnno and the likes of Graham Rowntree and John Wells in contact with you about what you need to work on?
Yeah they come down now and then to do some scrummaging sessions or they’ll be in contact over the phone to keep an eye on you and let you know what they think you need to work on. They obviously have to keep an eye on a lot of players so when you do get any feedback whether it’s positive or negative, it’s good to know that they are monitoring how you’re playing and how you can improve.
How do you rate England’s chances for the Six Nations this year?
They’ve progressed really well over the last few months, particularly with the win against Australia, and if you look at the squad there’s a great sense of belief and confidence there, which is a very hard thing to obtain. They’re in a strong position going into the tournament, but you never know what might happen.
Finally coming back to Quins, is a top four finish a realistic aim now for the season?
Well as players you always want to finish in contention for silverware, as does every other club in the Premiership, and whilst we’re on a good run right now we are only half way through the season and there is a long way to go. If we get lucky with injuries and are in contention in a couple of month’s time playing at the same level as we are now then I think we could finish in that top four. But we have to maintain our patience and control that has served us so well in recent times as well as our physicality.
– Alfa Romeo is the official car supplier to Harlequins.
by Ben Coles