Chris Robshaw keeps captaincy as England aim to 'kick on' in Six Nations

Chris Robshaw has been reappointed as England's captain for their forthcoming Six Nations campaign, which commences against Scotland on Saturday week.

Stuart Lancaster, the national side's head coach, has also challenged the team to raise their game and "kick on" from last season's championship, when they were runners-up to Wales.

Keeping faith with the man who helped steer England to a record victory over the All Blacks last month was not one of Lancaster's tougher decisions. Not only did the Harlequins flanker lead the team in all but one of their dozen Tests in 2012 but his place is now even more secure following injuries to many of the other back-row alternatives.

Robshaw has also guided Harlequins to a home quarter-final draw in this season's Heineken Cup and few squad members will have fallen off their chairs in shock when Lancaster informed them in Leeds last night. Tom Wood, Dylan Hartley, Geoff Parling and Dan Cole all offer leadership qualities if required but, crucially, the 26-year-old Robshaw has shown himself to be a captain who motivates those around him. "Chris stepped into the role 12 months ago, when we were building a new team, and he has grown as a leader on and off the field," said Lancaster. "He showed those leadership qualities during the autumn internationals, and especially against the All Blacks when the whole squad got behind him. We have a number of leaders and I know they will all take this team forward with Chris as we look to kick on from that result."

Robshaw himself is equally keen to maintain the momentum established by the New Zealand game, having had to endure criticism of his decision-making in the closing moments of the 16-15 loss to South Africa. "There are other leaders in the squad that Stuart could have turned to so I am really honoured," he said. "The lads have been great over the last year and now our focus is on building on the New Zealand performance and getting a result against Scotland.

"New Zealand is the benchmark of where we strive to be as a team. We believed we could beat them. When you've been kicked down and written off, it makes you closer together. There might be a bit more pressure [in this Six Nations] because of the autumn, but it's about dealing with that and backing up what we did last year."

England are already resigned to being without Tom Croft, Calum Clark and Tom Johnson for the opening stages of the championship, while Gloucester's Freddie Burns is also struggling to feature against Scotland or Ireland. The fly-half damaged a knee in the Amlin Challenge Cup last weekend and will have further scans this week.

Lancaster and Robshaw are due to attend the Six Nations launch in London on Wednesday, with England's starting XV to face the Scots at Twickenham set to be confirmed 48 hours before the fixture.

Powered by article was written by Robert Kitson, for The Guardian on Monday 21st January 2013 20.52 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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