Toby Flood insists the fact that Chris Robshaw is a follower off the pitch makes him the perfect man to lead England on it.
England’s Six Nations opening victory against Scotland marked almost a year to the day that Robshaw was first installed as captain by the then new coach Stuart Lancaster.
That day in 2012, Robshaw lead England to a 13-6 victory in just his second cap and the flanker was at it again to lift another Calcutta Cup last weekend.
A lot has happened between now and then to Robshaw, the 26-year-old having led Harlequins to a first-ever Aviva Premiership title as well as international victories in France and against World Cup champions New Zealand.
But fly-half Flood is adamant Robshaw hasn’t let this success get to his head, making him the life and soul of England on the field even if it is the opposite off it.
“Chris is still the same guy he was a year ago too,” Flood said.
“I think that is why Chris has been picked because of that down to earth attitude he has.
“He is not the life and soul of the party off the field, he is not going to be driving the jokes, but he is incredibly driven and he wants to be learning and wants to get better and I think because of that guys will follow him.
“He speaks very clearly and concisely, people tie into that and dove tail into that and he is important for us in that respect.
“He hasn’t let the captaincy change his game at all and that is a hard thing to do because some people might let it go to their head.
“But he has been able to just continue to do what got him there in the first place and he has stuck to his guns and not changed at all and that is great to see.”
It hasn’t all been rosy though for Robshaw during his tenure as captain, coming under scrutiny for telling Owen Farrell to take a shot at goal against South Africa late in the game with the Springboks just four points ahead.
England went on to lose the game 16-15 but Robshaw responded to the criticism in style by downing the Kiwis next time around, and Flood admits this is the measure of the man that the Red Rose can now rely on.
“To have a guy who had that amount of fallout after the Australia and South Africa to then go and get the result he did against New Zealand, it pales all that into insignificance and he has taken it on well and continued to perform on the field and not let it get to him,” Flood added.
“He didn’t let all that faze him, he kept believing in what he was doing and he kept moving forward. And throughout it all he had the believe and trust of his players and that is so key.”
* Toby Flood is representing the England team for Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Official partner of the RFU. Marriott Hotels & Resorts is giving away a two night break in Europe every time England score a try in the RBS 6 Nations. Go to Facebook.com/MarriottHotelsUK for more details.