Oz wary o f ‘ pest’ R obshaw
Hooper hails England captain’s ability as a flanker
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.