Quins veteran Nick Easter has urged critics of Chris Robshaw to resist comparing him to Martin Johnson and judge him on his own merits.
With 34 victories in 39 Tests in charge of the national team and a World Cup win to his name, Martin Johnson is without question England’s most successful captain.
Johnson set the benchmark which others have struggled to follow. Robshaw has captained England to 16 wins in 27 Tests – a win ratio of 59 per cent – since being handed the armband on the eve of the 2012 Six Nations.
But Easter is in no doubt his Harlequins team-mate and back row colleague is the right man to take England forward. “He is in his third season as England captain and has more than proved he is worthy of the job,” Easter told The Rugby Paper.
“He has got a big year ahead of him and I can’t think of a better candidate. He’s led them through tough times and to some memorable victories and they have just got to gather a little bit more experience in those big games and they could go far.”
Easter added: “People say he is not a great orator and he doesn’t have the aura of Martin Johnson but who bloody does? Richie McCaw is the most successful captain in the world but even he’s not got the same aura as Johnno on the pitch.
“Chris is a guy who somehow gets another 10-20 per cent out of the guys around him just by being so consistently excellent. He drives other players on.
“When things aren’t going so well he’ll do something to lift everyone else, whether that’s clearing a ruck or getting his hands on the ball, making half a yard with a ball carry, if that’s what needed, or getting off the floor and making a tackle.
“Just taking those qualities into account, never mind all the other stuff he does well, should be enough for him to get in the team.”
Robshaw, meanwhile, admits he is still learning on the job two-and-a-half years into his reign.
“I think you always continue to learn whether it is reading books and watching certain shows and listening to what other captains say on the field as well, maybe with the way they interact with their team or maybe the way they interact with a referee. There are always little bits you can take.
“A lot of it (leadership) is understanding other people, understanding what kind of reaction they need. Do guys need a clip round the ear or an arm over the shoulder if a mistake has been made?”
Robshaw’s England begin the November series with a re-match against the world’s best team New Zealand.
England lost 3-0 to the All Blacks in New Zealand and will be out for revenge at Twickenham next Saturday.
Looking ahead to the World Cup, Easter says facing the world champions first up, while not ideal, could be a blessing in disguise.
He said: “We’ve got injuries and there will be one or two new combinations on show so it would have been best to play them fourth.
“They’ll also be battle-hardened after the Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup and the Test in America.
“But when it comes to World Cups, especially knockout games, you have to hit the ground running and it helps to have some tough matches beforehand and they should look at it from that point of view.”
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