Robshaw targets perfect end to surreal season
May 25, 2012
Will Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw be celebrating a Premiership triumph on Saturday? © Getty Images
Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw is determined to cap a rollercoaster of a season with victory over Leicester in Saturday's Aviva Premiership finale at Twickenham.
An eventful campaign began with the disappointment of missing out on England's Rugby World Cup squad but he has since battled back to become England captain and steer his side to the brink of their first Premiership title.
In his way stand Leicester - the eight-time finalists who are unbeaten in their last 11 matches and targeting a record 10th title - and the weight of history. Harlequins' victory at Welford Road in October was only their second against the Tigers in 28 meetings over the history of the Premiership.
But Robshaw has already achieved more this season than he could ever have imagined and so the prospect of facing Leicester holds no fears. "This bloke ain't going out to come second," said Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea.
To lift the Premiership title tomorrow would be the crowning glory to a "surreal" campaign for Robshaw and seal a historic season for Harlequins. "If someone had told me at the start of the year that this would all happen, I would have probably laughed at them," Robshaw told Press Association Sport.
"It was very frustrating to miss out on the World Cup. You have your dark moments and your sulks. But you have to get back on the horse. When you come here you are not coming to a job, you are coming to do something that you love, with your mates.
"It is brilliant. You look at the first team and more than half have come through the academy. It is special to be playing with guys I was playing with at 17-18, like Mike Brown and George Robson.
"When you are in club colours you want to be playing in big finals, big games. They don't come much bigger than this. It will be a great occasion. It is everything you want to do as a player."
While Robshaw responded to his World Cup omission positively, Danny Care has admitted the injury that ruled him out of the tournament led to him going off the rails. Care was arrested four times in a little over three months and lost his place in the England squad for the Six Nations. Typically, Robshaw was one of those who helped get him back on track and Care's contest with Ben Youngs tomorrow will be one of many intriguing sub-plots.
Both men travel to South Africa with England next week aiming to oust Lee Dickson as the starting scrum for the Test series and both will look to put pace on the game.
Elsewhere, the fast-improving Harlequins loose-head Joe Marler will lock horns with Leicester and England tight-head Dan Cole in a seismic front row showdown. "Leicester will always have that tight five that will take the game to you. If you don't front up to that, you lose," O'Shea said.
But Leicester are more than just an abrasive scrummaging outfit nowadays, as witnessed at The Stoop last month when the Tigers won an extraordinary game 43-33. "I am glad for the game that the two teams who really try and play are in the final," O'Shea said.
"Leicester are the standard-bearers, they are the club everyone else in the country wants to measure themselves against. Eight consecutive finals is an incredible record. We feel we are on the start of a journey. We know we are underdogs and we will see how far we have come as a team.
"They have attacking threats. They mauled us over in the first five minutes at The Stoop but they were also able to get width on the game. We know they can attack any which way they want - but I think so can we. When we make a linebreak we have to be clinical."
O'Shea has named a full-strength side, with Care back in action after a shoulder injury ruled him out of the semi-final win against Northampton and Ugo Monye recovered from a hamstring problem.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery
"England remind me of a PlayStation rugby team," John Mitchell on tactics and the search for a first-choice fly-half ahead of the World Cup
Augustine Pulu will return home with little more than 20 minutes rugby in one month on tour. It is time for more midweek games writes Craig Dowd