England captain Chris Robshaw has spoken to former captain Lawrence Dallaglio about giving up the Harlequins captaincy, the exciting kick off match of the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Harlequins and Castres, and all things England.
Robshaw was replaced as Harlequins captain by prop Joe Marler for the 2014/15 season, and says it was a mutual decision between himself and coach Conor O'Shea to stand down from the post in order to allow him to prepare 'mentally'.
"It [the change of captaincy] was one of those things where we’ve actually been speaking for some time," Robshaw told Dallaglio. "As you’ve seen with various sports in the last year or so, the media pressure does tend to pump up a little bit, especially with the year ahead."
"It’s a big side of the game now, that mental side, and it’s about making sure you are fresh. Last season I think we played for over a calendar year, when you include tours and pre-season, so it is important that guys do look after themselves and that’s what Conor has done."
"It [the change of captaincy] was one of those things where we’ve actually been speaking for some time," Robshaw.
Robshaw excited by Champions Cup challenge
Robshaw's Harlequins kick off a new era of European Rugby tonight in the Champions Cup against a Castres side they know very little about, but the 28-year-old is excited for the challenge that lies ahead.
'We [the team] are excited," said the flanker, "The guys love Europe, they love a trip in Europe as well, it's always exciting. I think the great thing about Europe is you’re not always playing against players you normally play against. I can’t remember if Quins have actually played Castres in their previous history, so you are playing a bit of the unknown which is always quite exciting.
"You’re playing against some incredible players as well. It is a fantastic tournament, it’s great it did stick around and allow players to compete against each other."
Robshaw also looking forward to Autumn Internationals
Despite his excitement for the upcoming European games, Robshaw has still reserved plenty of excitement for the Autumn Internationals as well.
"I'm very excited, looking at the way teams are playing, players are playing, guys are putting their hands up and it’s fantastic for English rugby," he told Dallaglio. "I think also the way England finished in the summer we feel we’ve got a little bit of unfinished business and of course New Zealand are up first aren’t they, so we are so excited!"
Robshaw has come under more pressure than ever as places on England's back row are getting harder to come by thanks to increased competition, with James Haskell putting in some very good performances for club.
"As an individual there is always competition and you want to make sure that you are playing as well as possible," he added. "How do you go about that? Do you go about that by being drawn into what’s being said? Or do you speak to the coaches and the guys that matter and can help you and try to improve your game to get better? And that’s the way it’s got to be, you can’t be drawn into all that stuff."
Robshaw has one eye on the World Cup
Despite the big year Robshaw has coming up - both for club and country - he can't help but have one eye on next summer's World Cup, but says winning the Six Nations is vitally important preparation for the competition.
"You try not to [think about the World Cup] is probably the best way of putting it. I think everyone knows what’s happening and when it’s happening because every time we’re interviewed we are reminded.
"It is extremely exciting, don’t get me wrong and England are proving themselves and improving regularly I think and that it is the main thing."
It [winning the six nations first] just gives you that backing doesn’t it. In the back of your mind you know what you’ve done and as international players and as a team we are judged truly on results, you can say you’ve played the prettiest rugby or whatever but at the end of the day if you’re not winning it doesn’t really matter."
The European Rugby Champions Cup kicks off today with Harlequins v Castres Olympique, exclusively live on BT Sport. BT Sport is the only place to watch top live matches from the new European Rugby Champions Cup, European Rugby Challenge Cup and the Aviva Premiership.
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