Six Nations: Stopping Robshaw the key for Ireland

Nullifying the England captain’s effectiveness at the Aviva a must if Ireland are to prevail

England captain Chris Robshaw: “He has unreal work rate. He goes about his business quietly. He is one of those fellas who doesn’t say much but he leads by example. That’s part of their culture and he is a good example of what they are trying to do and the person he is.”

England captain Chris Robshaw: “He has unreal work rate. He goes about his business quietly. He is one of those fellas who doesn’t say much but he leads by example. That’s part of their culture and he is a good example of what they are trying to do and the person he is.”

 

Irish backrowers Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien see England captain Chris Robshaw as central to England’s hopes in Dublin.

Since this year’s campaign began Robshaw has been a selfless a captain of the England side in the mould of Martin Johnson and is seen as one of the reasons England have ambitions for this year’s championship and the World Cup.

Both a leader and a player who commands respect, he has become a touchstone for the English work ethic and understated conviction.

“I think he’s a quality player,” said O’Mahony earlier today. “I think he’s been certainly in the forefront of what England have done well over the last three weeks. He has been hugely physical. Their win away in Wales was particularly impressive. I thought he was at the forefront of that.”

Robshaw’s tackle count so far after two matches has been a phenomenal 44 and is ever present at the England breakdown, commanding and leading the pack with his own contributions.

“Robshaw is no flash Harry but his stats are unreal,” added O’Brien.

“He has unreal work rate. He goes about his business quietly. He is one of those fellas who doesn’t say much but he leads by example. That’s part of their culture and he is a good example of what they are trying to do and the person he is. He represents them really well off the field. He mightn’t be the flashiest player but you don’t need to be flashy to work.

“Massive stats. He’s able to play. He’s good with his hands. A good link man. He stays in the fight at the ruck. He’ll always back-end. He’s got a bit of everything.

“I don’t know what he’s like [personally]but he’s someone who works and who leads his team well.”

O’Mahony sees this England team as one that can adapt to the demands placed upon it. While the side are seen as physical and well organised, they are also a team that has edges in other areas. They have pace out wide and have depth to the squad with a bench that is more an asset than a list of replacements.

“I think, they’re a hugely adaptive side,” says O’Mahony. I think they’re attacking play has come on a long way. I think Burrell and guys like Watson and George Ford they’re impressive across the board.

“I think whoever plays 15, Mike Brown or (Alex) Goode, it doesn’t really matter. They’ve a hugely impressive impact bench as well. Guys like Tom Croft and (Nick) Easter come on and make an impact with a huge amount of experience as well so I think they’re quite a complete, all-rounded side.”

While France also have bulk and kilos on their side, their organisation seemed comparatively poor. England comes to Aviva Stadium with more a focussed game plan as well as discipline and coaching to put it all together.

Ireland, although two wins from two, feel the team has not yet played to their potential and are struggling to add other aspects to the obvious physicality they bring to the game.

“It’s a strange enough feeling,” says O’Mahony. “We’re obviously happy enough to get the wins but I don’t think we’ve been overly happy with our performance. I think we’ve had two very tough games and we’ve battled them out well but I don’t think we’ve been happy with our execution and our attention to detail. So there’s kind of a mixed feeling at the moment.

“I think France were hugely physical last weekend and I think England are as physical. I think there’s probably a bit more of a direction to the English style of play. They’re more organised and they’re certainly well coached and are certainly very well directed. They’re a complete side. In physicality, I don’t think there’s going to be a huge difference between France and England.”

O’Mahony declined to comment on the choke tackle that Wales defence coach, Shaun Edwards, has called on to be outlawed on the basis that it is dangerous and adds nothing to the game. It is a tackle technique favoured by Ireland and latterly England.

Ireland pioneered the choke tackle in 2011, where tacklers aim to keep ball-carriers upright in a maul and off the ground knowing that, if the ball fails to emerge, they will be awarded the scrum.

“Look, I’m not here to shout down what Shaun is saying,” said O’Mahony flatly. “These fellas have their own opinion and they can drive on with that.”

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