CHRIS ROBSHAW has many of the leadership qualities required to captain the British and Irish Lions and would take the job ‘‘in his stride’’, according to Graham Rowntree.
Robshaw was installed as the bookmakers’ favourite to lead the 2013 Lions to Australia after England’s 12-6 RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland.
Rowntree, the England forwards coach, is also member of the Lions management team that will meet next week for their latest round of selection discussions.
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England will be more heartily represented than before the Six Nations began and, when the captaincy subject arises, Robshaw’s name is sure to be mentioned.
The Harlequins flanker has led his country in 13 of his 14 Test match appearances and his work ethic epitomises the new England that head coach Stuart Lancaster is building.
Although the dynamic of a ten-match, six-week Lions tour is very different to England’s evolving project Rowntree believes Robshaw would be unfazed if the captaincy came his way.
‘‘You have got to have that respect for what you do as a captain and I think Chris is a fine example of that – probably even more so for a group of players coming together for the first time,’’ Rowntree said.
‘‘Everyone has got to respect you as a player, not necessarily as a speaker or a tubthumper as such. What Chris has got is a great work ethic.
‘‘It is about the guys doing what he did and having the same ethic as Chris. He also speaks well and, through experience, he is getting very good at decisions but he has a good leadership group around him on the field.
‘‘I think if Chris was lucky enough to go on the Lions and had to be captain he would take it all in his stride and I think he would gain that respect from those other players as well.’’ Robshaw supplanted Brian O’Driscoll as favourite in the eyes of the bookmakers while Wales’ Sam Warburton and Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip also have their champions.
The Lions’ 38-man touring squad will be announced in April, with the captain expected to be confirmed nearer the departure date.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland suggested last November that Robshaw did not fit his vision of a low-to-theground openside flanker he believed would be required to face Australia.
However, Gatland admitted last week that Robshaw had forced his way back into contention following his performances in England’s wins against New Zealand, Scotland and Ireland.
Rowntree said: ‘‘If you are going to captain the Lions you have to be worthy of being in that Test team. You have to be good enough to have nailed down that spot and be respected by everyone, every Union.’’ Wearing his Lions cap, Rowntree has been buoyed by all the home nations’ performances so far this Six Nations.
England are unbeaten but Ireland achieved a notable win in Cardiff and Wales in Paris.
Scotland have also rediscovered the art of scoring tries, with full-back Stuart Hogg catching the eye in particular.
‘‘I think the state of the game in terms of the Lions is good,’’ Rowntree said.
‘‘We will meet next week as a coaching group and have another stab at selection and it will be another ten-hour meeting.
‘‘I look at how we (England) are doing and having done the preparation for Scotland and Ireland I have seen their players.
“The same will happen when we play Wales. Overall there will be some tough decisions.’’