He is no longer captain when it comes to England but Chris Robshaw will be sorely missed regardless during the 2017 Six Nations, according to team-mate Joe Launchbury.
Robshaw’s 2017 got off to the worst possible start as he aggravated a shoulder injury in Harlequins’ New Year’s Day defeat to Worcester, with the blindside flanker subsequently ruled out for up to 12 weeks.
Although he was previously relinquished of his captaincy duties by Eddie Jones – with Dylan Hartley leading the team – Robshaw has been a key player for the Red Rose, starting 12 of the 13 successive victories under the Australian head coach, only missing the end-of-season ‘friendly’ with Wales back in May.
During that run Robshaw received plaudits for the role he played in England’s back row, and lock Launchbury admits his absence will be sorely felt over the next two months.
“He is a massive loss. Chris has been a fixture of the team for many years – both as a captain and key player,” said Launchbury, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, Main Club Partner of Wasps, and taking part in a day of off-road driving challenges against players from Welsh regional side Cardiff Blues. Land Rover supports both clubs and invited players to see which team could claim an early Anglo-Welsh victory and take the title of the Ultimate Off Road Driving Team.
“He has not missed many games for England so it will be new for him not to be around and it will be important for us to step around him, but he does a lot of the unseen work or the less glamorous stuff which holds the team together – so he is going to be hard to replace.
“He is a senior figure but we are fortunate really that we have got a key, senior group around Dylan – it is a good player-led environment and I think that is key.
“I think Chris will be a big loss but there are plenty of other senior players in there. The depth of the squad is impressive and there is not one player who does not deserve to be there.
“That is a testament to the Premiership as a whole and the quality of competition but also the squad we have.”
Despite Robshaw being unavailable England start the 2017 Six Nations as favourites with 14 consecutive victories under their belt, including a Grand Slam 12 months ago.
But Launchbury insists there are still improvements to be made.
“External pressure does not mean much to us really, it has always been there around the Six Nations but for us we know where we want to get to and the level we want to be playing at in the future,” he added.
“And we need to be honest with ourselves and keep trying to improve. We have a young team which is very ambitious and wants to get better – that’s the key ingredient.
“We need to be more consistent in our game. If you look at some of the games we have played, we have been fluid in attack but the scrum or lineout has not gone to plan.
“They key to improvement is making sure every key department and facet of the game is consistent. I think that is the next step.”
Land Rover is Principal Partner of Cardiff Blues and Main Club Partner of Wasps. Land Rover continues to champion grassroots rugby through its We Deal In Real campaign. @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal