Robshaw backed to keep hold of England armband

Chris Robshaw can win the fight to continue as England captain, according to Harlequins boss Conor O’Shea.

England's Courtney Lawes and Chris Robshaw during a training session.

Robshaw’s club boss has backed the embattled flanker to knuckle down at Quins after his World Cup disaster – then prove all over again why he should lead England.

Robshaw will captain England in tomorrow’s dead rubber against Uruguay in Manchester before Stuart Lancaster’s side then exit their home World Cup at the pool stages.

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Head coach Lancaster and captain Robshaw will both then be battling for their futures, but Quins rugby director O’Shea backed his back-rower to hold on to the leadership role with England.

“I would always want him to be my captain,” said O’Shea.

“We took the captaincy off him at Quins to help him deal with the pressures and now it’s clear what those pressures are.

“I wanted him as mentally fresh as he could be, I wanted him relaxed for what we knew would be the toughest period of his life.

“Did anybody pay any attention to the reasons why I made that decision? No. It’s why it was done.

“What does Chris need to do now? I’m sure there will be loads of scrutiny, opinion, loads of ‘change 15 players’ blah, blah, blah.

“But he just needs to play well for Quins, he needs to be successful and then everything will look after itself.

“That’s what got him to where he was and that’s what will keep him where he is. His ambition will do the same for him all over again.”

England have become the worst-performing hosts in World Cup history by failing the reach the quarter-finals.

Lancaster’s squad will disperse after the weekend and will be available to start the Aviva Premiership season a week later.

O’Shea said Robshaw is unlikely to feature on the opening weekend however, as he comes to terms with England’s unmitigated World Cup disaster.

The Harlequins boss revealed he has told Robshaw to stop apologising for England’s early exit.

“We’re incredibly proud of what those boys have achieved,” said O’Shea.

“They came up short – but better to be that man than the man hurling abuse at the pitch.

“I talked to him yesterday, and I said ‘you’ve apologised enough, get on with it, be proud of what you’ve done, and don’t listen to people, because you’re an incredible leader and an incredible rugby player’.

“He has always been damned with faint praise, he deserves a heck of a lot more than that for what he has achieved and will achieve.

“It takes time in sport for everyone to get on with it, but you do because you have to.

“You want expectation but if you fall short the emotional reaction is going to be what it is.

“Personally, I would love people to be more balanced, for people to understand what these guys have given.”

Warren Gatland, meanwhile, says World Cup quarter-finalists Wales are “desperate” to win tomorrow’s Pool A decider against Australia at Twickenham.

Although both teams are already through to the last-eight, the group winners would then face Scotland or Japan, while the runners-up tackle twice world champions South Africa.

Wales, though, have got it all to do, having lost their last 10 Tests against Australia and not beaten them since 2008.

“We are desperate to win this game, as win this group and potentially your road through to quarters, semis and final is a little bit easier than the the other side of the draw,” said Gatland.

“We’re desperate to finish off well and win this group, and, hopefully, give ourselves potentially a second seed team in the quarter-finals.

“The last five times against Australia there has been a score in it. We’ve been ahead in games and not been able to finish it off.

“You learn from that, and experience comes from that and it showed in the autumn against South Africa. We closed that game down, and were brilliant in the last 15 minutes against England (12 days ago), coming from behind and showing maturity to close that game down.”

Gatland has made six changes to his team, with a first Test start for New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe, who features at full-back, while Liam Williams returns after concussion on the wing and George North switches to outside centre as Jamie Roberts’ midfield partner.

Elsewhere, prop Paul James returns from injury and replaces Gethin Jenkins, Samson Lee wears the number three shirt, Luke Charteris features at lock and skipper Sam Warburton moves to blindside flanker, with openside Justin Tipuric handed a start.

North and Warburton both make positional switches, and elsewhere, Gatland has retained an in-form half-back combination of Dan Biggar and Gareth Davies, but flanker Dan Lydiate does not feature in the match-day 23-strong squad.