Chris Robshaw admits he would respect England coach Eddie Jones' decision to strip him of the captaincy should he be overlooked to lead a new era following the Rugby World Cup. Jones, installed as a replacement for Stuart Lancaster in November, is yet to make a decision over his skipper as he continues to assess the players at his disposal.
Following the exit of Lancaster after an RFU review, and the subsequent departure of his backroom team including Mike Catt, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, the stripping of Robshaw as captain naturally appears to be the next step ahead of a new era for English rugby. Hooker Dylan Hartley, a player perceived to be in the mould of Jones, has been heavily linked with the role, but no decision has yet been made.
Hartley, who missed the World Cup after receiving a suspension for a head-butt that ruled him out of the opening game against Fiji, was mentioned in relation to the position over the weekend. With Jones' first game as England coach against Scotland on the opening weekend of the Six Nations less than six weeks away, the Australian is running out of the time to reach a verdict. However, Robshaw is unperturbed.
"I am now back to where I want to be mentally, focusing on helping Harlequins do well and being selected in the England squad," said Robshaw, who has captained England in all but one of his 43 appearances. "It would be a huge honour to be asked to continue as captain but, if Eddie asks someone else to take over, I would respect his decision and give the new captain my total support. My priority is to be in the side at the start of the Six Nations, whether as captain, six seven, number eight or prop. What matters is what is best for the team."
During the World Cup Robshaw was subject to criticism from Jones – then the coach of Japan – who claimed he was not an international quality player. Both individuals have since shared a frank exchange of views and the Harlequins flanker holds no grudge.
"I have had a chat with Eddie," he added. "He [publicly] mentioned my coffee shop which I was pretty pleased about. We had a sit down and a chat and he seems a good guy with I hope some exciting ideas for English rugby.
"As for what we said, you will have to ask him. I have also spoken to Stuart and the other coaches. As players we feel for them and it is extremely tough in this type of industry. We did not perform as well as we would have liked but we were not a million miles away.
"There is a huge amount of talent in that squad. Look at how well the English teams are playing in Europe and there is good reason to be excited. I am sure Eddie will adjust a couple of things and there is a bright future for English rugby. You cannot discredit the work of Stuart and his coaches because of the World Cup. He did great stuff for English rugby, transforming the scene."