South Africa v England, Port Elizabeth, June 23
Lancaster hails injured Robshaw
June 19, 2012
Chris Robshaw has earned high praise since taking over as captain © Getty Images
England head coach Stuart Lancaster believes captain Chris Robshaw exceeded expectations, despite his season being cut one game short.
Robshaw will miss the final Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday after breaking his thumb in the defeat by the Springboks last weekend. The flanker had two caps prior to this year's Six Nations, but has become an influential figure since Lancaster's appointment.
"Where Chris has exceeded everyone's expectations is in his ability to manage the responsibility of being England captain, captaining his club side to the Premiership final and still playing tremendously well at the same time," Lancaster said. "That is what makes his season so special.
"We were a completely new team that had 15 new players in and had just come out of a World Cup where there was a lot of upset about things that hadn't gone well. He has been a massive part in galvanising the team to become the squad it is now.
"He does that but, more importantly, he leads by example on the field and in training. He provides a great role model for young players coming into the team."
Lancaster explained Robshaw was devastated to miss out on the final Test of the South Africa tour, but chose not to risk further injury to his skipper.
"No player, when they are captain of their country, wants to be told they can't play in the final Test. But we have got to respect the specialist advice. If he gets another kick on it, it will displace and then it will require an operation.
"We don't want to compromise his well-being by putting him in with a fracture which could displace and then keep him out for three months as opposed to four weeks," said Lancaster.
Dylan Hartley will take over as captain for match in which England look to salvage some pride from the three-Test series after defeats in Durban and Johannesburg. Hartley recently served an eight-week ban for biting, but Lancaster expects the new responsibility to lift the hooker.
"In the changing room before the game you hear lots of voices. You have the captain's voice but I can guarantee you Dylan's voice is close behind, encouraging, shouting, motivating. I think it will add five per cent on Dylan Hartley this weekend, definitely.
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