Stuart Lancaster wants Chris Robshaw to lead England’s World Cup bid

England coaching team hugely impressed by the flanker’s leadership in win over Wales

England are determined not to look beyond Italy this Saturday, but their Six Nations victory over Wales has already convinced Stuart Lancaster to anoint Chris Robshaw as his captain for the World Cup.

Barring accidents, Robshaw will lead his country into the tournament this autumn with Lancaster having decided the Harlequins flanker is the right choice for the high-profile job.

Robshaw has captained England throughout Lancaster's tenure but has only been reappointed on a tournament-by-tournament basis.

The coaches, however, were hugely impressed by his input in Cardiff, on the field and immediately prior to the game, when he refused to be pressurised into leading his team from the tunnel to the pitch before Wales had left their dressing room.


Automatic pick

While much can still change in terms of form and fitness between now and September, Lancaster has made it clear he believes the 28-year-old is now an automatic pick, regardless of the increasing competition for places in England’s back-row.

“It would take a big change of heart now to move from the direction we’re going with Chris,” Lancaster said.

"He has been excellent and we need to make sure we continue to back him. We certainly will in this Six Nations and, fingers crossed, he'll be fit and available for the start of the World Cup camp in June."

Robshaw was once again influential against the Welsh, putting in 26 tackles and playing a key role in his side’s hugely effective second-half performance.

“Confidence in his ability as a player is the fundamental thing behind leadership,” Lancaster said. “He’s secure in his position in the team but he’s earned it. He did it again against Wales with the number of tackles and turnovers he made and his contribution to the game. We look at people’s involvement, not just in the rucks but in their work-rate off the ball. He’s continually at the top of that as well. He’s earned the respect of all the players and as a consequence he’s leading them effectively.”

England do have a widening leadership circle but Lancaster clearly feels Robshaw has matured into a more decisive, stronger captain than he was in his fledgling Test years. The tunnel episode was merely one example of it and the coaches reckon it set a collective tone.

“As a group we have grown,” Lancaster added.

“It’s less about the tunnel and more about playing hard on the field. You want to show what you are about as a group. There is a fine line but I’d hate to think we come across as an arrogant team. I’d like to think there was no arrogance but a confidence growing”

Injury concerns

England’s luck also appears to be changing, with no fresh injury concerns before Italy’s visit to Twickenham. It seems almost certain that Lancaster will opt for an unchanged line-up, but

Geoff Parling


Brad Barritt


Kyle Eastmond

are all due to return to contact work in the next 24 hours.

Tom Wood


Courtney Lawes

, however, are unlikely to play any rugby before the weekend England face


in Dublin at the start of March and it remains extremely unlikely that Leicester’s

Manu Tuilagi

will be seen in this championship.

The Bath prop David Wilson is also the subject of some concern, full power having not yet returned to his arm after he damaged a nerve in his neck.

“His pain’s gone but his strength hasn’t quite returned,” Lancaster said. “Sometimes these things can take two weeks, sometimes they can take longer. Hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.”

“There’s still a long way to go in the championship, but it’s certainly easier to move on from an away win, particularly in the context of the game and how we played,” he added.

Guardian Service