sport

Robshaw ready for All Blacks

Chris Robshaw hopes to put two of the toughest weeks behind him when he leads England into a battle against New Zealand on Saturday.

Lying in wait for England's greenhorn side will be world champions New Zealand, who have marched unbeaten through Europe on autumn tours for the last decade.

The All Blacks will stride out at Twickenham on the back of a 20-match unbeaten run and with a front row boasting more caps between them than England's entire starting XV.

England coach Andy Farrell described it this week as "the ultimate test" and it will be for Robshaw, whose ability and captaincy have both been questioned over the last fortnight.

But Robshaw is determined the mistakes he made in the defeats to Australia and South Africa will only serve to make him a better player and a better leader against the All Blacks.

"When you sign up for the job of England captain you know that days like this will come, when pressure is put on you," Robshaw said.

"You know there will be good days and some tough days.

"Over the last couple of weeks, myself and the other players have learned a lot about international rugby. We have learned the hard way and unfortunately that happens in sport.

"But we have to take those lessons and look forward. We can't be dwelling on what happened the last couple of weeks.

"You can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself, you have to move forward every week and it starts again tomorrow."

Robshaw was the youngest captain in the Aviva Premiership when he was awarded the position by Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea.

Last season he led the club to their first league title but Sir Clive Woodward believes the art of captaincy is different at Test level, something Robshaw is still getting to grips with.

Against Australia two weekends ago, Robshaw was criticised for not taking the points on offer as England chased the game by kicking for the corners and taking quick tap penalties.

Last week, Robshaw delivered an outstanding individual display against South Africa but his decision-making was again under the microscope.

Robshaw instructed Owen Farrell to kick a penalty goal with two minutes remaining and England trailing 16-12, only for a very public debate to ensue.

Farrell disagreed with the call but kicked the goal. When Mouritz Botha fumbled the restart, England's chance of victory had gone.

"It's a tough one to sit back now and view it," Robshaw said.

"You've always got to be clear in your thoughts I think, you've got to take into account all the ifs and buts and variations.

"Whatever you decide, then you have to hope that it comes off and wins you the game.

"Unfortunately it didn't win us the game, so it didn't work. First and foremost I need to go out and perform.

"As a captain you will be put under pressure in these situations, but the whole squad have been terrific and really supportive."

The performance of Australia's Michael Hooper in direct opposition to Robshaw also reignited the debate over England's lack of a classic openside flanker.

The point was emphasised further in the week by British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland, who said England "struggle for a genuine seven" who can compete hard over the ball.

Robshaw will face the ultimate test in that area on Saturday when he lines up opposite All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, the best breakdown exponent in the global game.

"You look at his record and he has won over 100 Tests and that record speaks for itself. He has won the World Cup and leads such a great side," Robshaw said.

"All players look up to someone like that. It is a massive challenge for myself.

" People always say South Africa is the most physical challenge you ever play but it will be a step up tomorrow. And it will be very different.

"They are one of the smartest sides. We have to match that physicality at the breakdown but it is about moving our game forwards once again."

If they do not, New Zealand could make things very ugly.

"We have to put in a full 80-minute performance. You can't go to sleep for five or 10 minutes because they will batter you," said England's skills coach Mike Catt.

"It is vital we don't make the same errors in attack as we did last week.

"If you watch the Wales-New Zealand game, that is where New Zealand really took advantage.

"We have to make sure we are accurate and clinical in what we do. There will be opportunities out there and we have to make sure we take them."