Chris Robshaw admits he will have nothing but sympathy and admiration for the members of England’s training squad who fail to get selected for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
England’s 45-man training squad has headed to Denver, where preparations will continue at pace ahead of August warm-up Tests against France before head coach Stuart Lancaster announces his final 31-player World Cup group.
That will mean heartache for those players who fail to make the cut, and captain Robshaw can empathise, having missed out on selection prior to the last World Cup in 2011.
He was also a surprise omission from the 2013 British and Irish Lions squad.
“All the guys want to be in that final 31, but unfortunately it doesn’t add up,” he added.
“I know what it’s like to do all the work and get the final tap on the shoulder to be told you are not going. For those who don’t go, I’ve got a lot of sympathy.
“But it is a tough business, and it does make the squad competitive and challenge each other in the right way to make us even better. You never want to go through the tough times, but unfortunately they happen in life. It’s about making sure that if something does happen, you react in the right way.”
Robshaw will become only the third England captain to lead his country into a Rugby World Cup in Britain after Will Carling (1991) and Martin Johnson (1999) when the tournament starts in mid-September.
It means the Harlequins flanker will be under a fierce spotlight, but he is relishing the challenge that lies ahead.
“As a captain, it’s about doing what is best for the team. It doesn’t always have to be your idea, it’s about getting the best outcome and challenging each other in the right way,” he said.
“When you win and when things go well, in life it’s generally pretty smooth isn’t it. Things tick along. But when all of a sudden things change and questions are asked and you need to adapt, you need to think on your feet, and that’s when you see what you and your team are about.
“I’ve gone through that a couple of times – highs and lows and different scenarios. Hopefully, we’ll be ready for things thrown at us.”