Lewis Moody praises Chris Robshaw
Lewis Moody talks to Sky Sports rugby union writer Tony Curtis about why Chris Robshaw is England's unsung hero.
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC. Last Updated: 11/12/12 4:55pm
Having earned the scars from a lifetime of putting his head where others fear, when Lewis Moody talks about life in the back row, you listen.
And when Moody claims his successor as England captain Chris Robshaw is a "talisman" it is worth taking note.
England might have finished their autumn schedule on a positive note - with an historic 38-21 victory over New Zealand - however Robshaw had found his captaincy criticised and his place in the starting XV questioned.
Robshaw's decision to turn down two kickable penalties against Australia came back to haunt him as England lost 20-16, while his gamble to go for the posts in the final two minutes against South Africa when trailing by four points failed to pay off as the Springboks held on to win 16-15.
On top of that, Robshaw has had to deal with increasing scrutiny over his style of play due to the obsession with having a 'poacher' in the No.7 jersey.
However Moody - who was capped 71 times by England, winning a World Cup winners' medal in 2003 and going on to lead his country at the 2011 tournament - believes the criticism has been tough on the 26-year-old Harlequins ace.
"It is only really New Zealand and Australia that have that out and out seven, such as your Richie McCaw or David Pocock," Moody told Sky Sports.
"Sometimes there are games when you will need one - as Richie has shown - but it is about the style that you want to play.
"I feel for Chris as if you look at the win over New Zealand and the Tests in the summer against South Africa, you can see that he has worked hard on his game and he does get the turnovers.
"Week in, week out he performs and that is what you want from your captain. He makes the tackles, he carries, carries and carries and covers the backsides of other people.
"He is not an all-singing, all-dancing seven that you would associate with New Zealand or Australia but he is a good player and a great leader who galvanises the team.
"It is always in the media about the seven but it is about the style you want to play. France and South Africa are two other leading sides that don't have one and it doesn't affect them.
"It is tough on Chris as he doesn't do all the glamorous stuff but he consistently does all the hard work that goes unseen. He is a talisman. He is a bit like Richard Hill was in '03 where he is unsung for the way he plays."
"When you are not dominating one area, where you can say he does better than anyone else at this, then people seem to think you are doing something wrong. It is tough on Chris as he doesn't do all the glamorous stuff but he consistently does all the hard work that goes unseen. He is a talisman. He is a bit like Richard Hill was in '03 where he is unsung for the way he plays."
Moody has also defended the England side for the way they played during the autumn Tests, claiming that the results didn't do the young side justice.
"In the games against South Africa and Australia I felt England hadn't played as badly as some people had made out," Moody said.
"If you look at the fact the squad only has 200-odd caps, hasn't had long together to prepare and is still learning how Stuart Lancaster wants to play, however they were only a score away from beating sides two and three in the world rankings, then they didn't get the credit they deserved.
"However they took the disappointment from those defeats and, coupled perhaps with the tiredness from an 18-month schedule for the All Blacks, they put in one cracking performance."
With coach Stuart Lancaster continuing to give youth its chance to flourish on the international stage, Moody was delighted with the way the players rose to the occasion.
"The stand out thing for me was the introduction of some of the players," added Moody.
"There were no great expectations placed on them. Alex Goode was told he was second best to Mike Brown but he showed what a quality performer he is.
"Tom Youngs was outstanding. Five years ago he started off in the Premiership as a centre, then two years on he moved to hooker and three years after that he is playing for England.
"He was my player of the series. I was impressed with the way he coped with the step up in intensity on the international stage, his lineouts were good - despite the South Africa game - he carried well and his work-rate was superb.
"I know Joe Launchbury received the plaudits as the QBE man of the series award - and he was another from which little was expected but he stepped up to the mark. These players were handed their chances and they took them with both hands."
Lewis Moody, along with Alan Chambers and Phil Wall, will be tackling their greatest challenge of the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon in February to raise money for HOPEHIV. To follow their progress or to sponsor them visit the website at www.mygreatestchallenge.org