Oz wary o f ‘ pest’ R ob­shaw

Hooper hails Eng­land cap­tain’s abil­ity as a flanker

Weekend Witness - - Spor T -

LONDON — Eng­land capt ain Chris Rob­shaw is an “ab­so­lute pest” ac­cord­ing to Aus­tralia coun­ter­part and fel­low open­side flank er Michael H ooper.

The t wo loose f or­wards will be in ­ volved in a c on­test to boss the br eak­down when Eng­land f ace Aus­tralia at Twick­en­ham to­day, less than a year out from the teams’ 2015 World Cup pool clash at the London gr ound.

Yet even though Rob­shaw has es­tab­lished him­self as Eng­land coach Stu­art Lan­caster’s un­doubted first­choice cap­tain, ther e ar e those w ho c on­tinue t o ques­tion whether his leader ship skills off­set the fact he is not a turnover spe­cial­ist in the mould of N ew Z ealand skip­per Richie M cCaw.

Lan­caster has f aced r epeated de­mands to aban­don Eng­land’s pol­icy of se­lect­ing over­seas­based play­ers in “ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances” only and r evive the Test ca­reer of im­pres­sive flanker St­ef­fon Ar­mitage, the reign­ing Euro­pean player of the y ear, who has been star­ring for French and Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Toulon.

But Hooper, one of the best scav­eng­ing open­sides in the mod­ern game, said Rob­shaw’s qual­i­ties as a flanker should not be disc ounted.

“Rob­shaw is an ab­so­lut Hooper said on T hurs­day.

“Last year he had a r eally good per­for­mance ag ainst us ar ound the ruck, dis­rupt­ing our ball and made it a re­ally tough night f or us ar ound the br eak­down,” ex­plained Hooper, re­call­ing En­

e pe st,” gland’s 20­13 win over the Wal­la­bies at Twick­en­ham in N ovem­ber 201 3.

“Rob­shaw’s work ethic is great: that’s prob­a­bly the main at­tribute of a seven, he’s got to work and get through a heap of s tuff.

“He does that: he’s their leader and is a big p art of the t eam r egardless.”

The 23­year­old added: “Ev­ery seven is diff er­ent and that’ s what I think is great about rugby — I’m dif­fer­ent from Rob­shaw and w e’re diff er­ent fr om South African and Ki wi se vens.

“There’s no one t ype of pla yer an y more in mod­ern rugb y, that’ s w hat’s good about the game and it will be good to ha ve that chal­leng e this w eek­end against him.”

“One of the great as­pects of num­ber seven is that it’s open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

“You can have an on­baller like [Aus­tralia’s David] Po­cock or [Wales’s] Sam War­bur­ton or y ou can ha ve a wider player. Within the shape w e pla y our back row ac­tu­ally splits the work quite a lot.

“We find our selves out in the wide chan­nels quite a bit which can be a bit dif­fer­ent fr om other t eams,” he said.

“My r ole can de­pend on the g ame: if it’s re­ally de­fen­sive then you have op­por­tu­nity t o g o at the br eak­down.

“But some­times your team can be at­tack­ing and have 60% of the b all and you can be out in the wide chan­nels.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a sin­gle r ole in the game. I just play it as I see it and I think Cheik s [Michael Cheik a, the Aus­tralia coach] backs me to do that.”

— S apa­AFP.

15­Mike Br own, 1 4­An­thony W at­son, 13­Brad Bar­rit t, 12­Billy T wel­ve­trees, 11­Jonny Ma 10­George F ord, 9­Ben Y oungs; 8­Ben Mor gan, 7­Chris R ob­shaw ( cap­tain), 6­T om W ood, 5­C ourt­ney La wes, 4­Da ve A ttwood, 3­Da ve Wils on, 2­Dy­lan Har­tle y, 1­Joe Mar­ler R eplace­ments: 16­R ob Web­ber, 17 ­Matt Mullan, 18­Kier an Br ookes, 19­George K ruis, 20­Jame s Hask ell, 21­Richar d Wig­gle sworth, 22­Ow en F ar­rell, 23­Mar­land Y arde

15­Isr ael F olau, 1 4­Henry S peight 1 3Adam A sh­ley­Cooper, 12­Mat t T oomua, 11­R ob Horne, 10­Bernar d F oley, 9­Nick Phipp s, 8­Ben McCal­man, 7 ­Michael Hooper ( cap­tain), 6­Sean McMa­hon, 5­R ob Sim­mons, 4­Sam Cart er, 3­Sek pe K epu, 2­Saia F ain­gaa, 1­Jame s Slip­per



Eng­land cap­tain Chris Rob­shaw will ha ve t o take on Aus­tralia’s Michael Hooper in a break­down bat­tle when the side s clash in to­day’s Twick­en­ham Test.

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