England win over South Africa is top focus for flanker Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw is a man on a mission, hell-bent on battling for his spot in Eddie Jones’ England side this autumn and is desperate to rack up a maiden Test win over the Springboks at Twickenham in the process.

The former England skipper cast his World Cup demons aside in the most emphatic fashion in June, racking up his 50th cap and turning in his finest Test performance as Jones’ history makers clinched a Test-series 3-0 triumph in Australia.

A two-week trip to California with his partner Camilla Kerslake has helped restore body and mind after an ‘extremely intense’ tour, but with the Aviva Premiership season weeks away and South Africa, Fiji, Australia and Argentina arriving at Twickenham in November there’s little chance for rest.

With youngsters Will Evans, Jack Clifford, Teimana Harrison and Maro Itoje among Jones’ 45-man Elite Player Squad, Robshaw is desperate to perform for club and country – with a win over South Africa top of his priorities.

“You have to continue to improve, you have to keep on working on it and make sure you are playing well for your club,” Harlequins back-row Robshaw said, speaking at the launch of the Crabbies National Rugby Awards at Wimbledon Rugby Club.

“As a back-row we love playing together every time we get to take the field together, we push each other in training and in games we link well, but as with anything there is competition.

“The target is first and foremost to beat South Africa, you look at the squad now and no one in there has beaten South Africa.

“We have played them four or five times and never had much luck, so that is very much on the agenda and anything else we can focus on after that, but all our attention is on them at the moment.”

Though Jones’ England have won nine consecutive games, Robshaw was quick to dismiss suggestions that the much-improved side are within striking distance of Sir Clive Woodward’s record 14-straight Test wins.

“The 14-game record is not on our minds, as players you want to keep winning and I am sure from a press point of view it will get picked up from time to time,” he explained.

“But as players you focus on the next game and hopefully if you prepare well and keep doing it right, you will do well.”

Jones has made a much-vaunted start to his tenure at the top of English rugby, and though Robshaw admitted the upturn in form was grounded in hard graft, the intense training and long days were more than justified by the outcome.

And despite their comprehensive series win, Robshaw wants to drive home their superiority  when the Wallabies come calling on December 3.

“Australia was incredibly tough, but great work. It was fantastic to go down and win 3-0 – it was great to be involved with,” he said.

“It was extremely intense, the games were very, quick, very physical, but if you look at the way we performed and you see the condition everyone is in at the moment, it was worthwhile.

“We always knew that going down there would be challenging, we play them again in the autumn series and we’re looking forward to that.

“Eddie has so much potential for English rugby, you look at the work he has done and the experience he has got and the players he has looked after

“He is very good at that man management. I am sure if there is somewhere out there who can bring the potential out in our players then it is Eddie.”

The Premiership itself is in rude health with internationals Willie le Roux, Taulupe Faletau and Kurtley Beale arriving in the Premiership this season – not to mention the English stars who inspired Saracens to a European and domestic double last season

That inherent competitiveness and the ability to attract the world’s best players away from Top 14 and Super Rugby can only be a good thing for England’s national side.
“The Premiership is getting so competitive now, you have seen in recent years how competitive it is. As soon as you slip off or take your eye off the ball for one game or half a game you will be exploited,” 51-cap international Robshaw said.

“It shows the calibre of where the Premiership is, you look at the players coming into it. It is phenomenal being able to take players away from France and the Southern Hemisphere and bring them to our league. It is going from strength to strength.

“It is fantastic for England rugby, all the players here are pushing each other and challenging against each other and competing, it is great for the national side and hopefully we can continue to grow and move England rugby forward again.”

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