Robshaw: focus on win, not margin

• England captain expects 'a very tough game'
• Robshaw says England will become France fans on Saturday

Chris Robshaw has told his English side to be wary of chasing false rainbows before the decisive final round of this season's Six Nations championship. England theoretically need a big win over Italy in Rome to boost their chances of lifting the trophy, but their captain has warned that flinging the ball around wildly from the kick-off could end up wrecking their title prospects.

It is possible that a French win over table-topping Ireland on Saturday night could deliver the title into English hands on points difference even if they merely scrape past the Azzurri, and Robshaw is also refusing to take the opposition remotely for granted. Italy beat Ireland and France at home last season and England's winning margins on their last three visits to Rome have been four, five and four points respectively.

"Unfortunately I've been in Heineken Cup games with Quins where we've chased bonus points and lost games when we'd have gone through if we'd simply gone out and won them," recalled Robshaw. "It happened to us in Connacht two years ago. Had we taken our kicks instead of chasing the game we would still have qualified because Toulouse ended up losing at Gloucester.

"It is very much a case of getting the win and anything more is a bonus. We just need to take care of ourselves. The perception inside the camp is that it's going to be a very tough game."

Robshaw did concede, though, that he and his team-mates would be cheering on France in Paris, where Ireland will kick off in the evening knowing precisely what they have to do to claim only their second championship title since 1985. England's lunchtime encounter at the Stadio Olimpico will have long since concluded, leaving Stuart Lancaster's squad to await their fate with an end-of-tournament glass of Italian red in hand.

Having finished second in each of the last two seasons there is a natural desire within English ranks to go one better, but Robshaw is already proud of the way his players have rebounded from their disappointing opening day defeat to France, when they lost out to Gaël Fickou's dramatic late converted try. "It's been a massive test of character and resilience of all the guys to bounce back and put ourselves into contention," he said.

"We've had to hold our ground at our own place and I think our attacking game has come on massively over this tournament. All we can control is our own performance and then we'll be like every other fan in the country cheering on the French. You want to pick up as many titles in your career as possible and if we can get something this weekend it would be great."

Last Sunday's win over Wales has also boosted Robshaw's belief that England will be strong contenders when they host the Rugby World Cup next year, despite the presence of Wales and Australia in their pool. "It would have given Wales massive momentum coming to a World Cup if they had beaten us three years on the bounce. Another defeat would have left us with a huge task. As a setup [under Lancaster] we hadn't beaten them and now we have."

That timely psychological boost has also encouraged cautious optimism ahead of this summer's tour to New Zealand, where England are due to play three Tests against the All Blacks. "I think as a group that is going to be our most challenging task to date," stressed Robshaw.

"It's probably not ideal that we'll be missing players for the first Test depending on which teams reach the Premiership final, but to win a World Cup you need more than 15 players. You need 30 players and that's what we are developing. We've got two or three players in every position now. We always talk about New Zealand and the way that their new players come in and excel. That's what we want here." © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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