Rival coaches trumpet fit-again Robshaw's Lions claims

Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:27
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REACTION: Warren Gatland will be a "brave man" to ignore Chris Robshaw's claims to a British and Irish Lions spot, said Harlequins coach John Kingston after the former England captain's impressive return to club duty.

Robshaw, England's first-choice blindside flank when fit, missed the team's entire successful Six Nations title defence with a shoulder injury.

But the 55-times capped loose forward returned to action on Saturday as Harlequins beat Newcastle 53-17 at the Twickenham Stoop for the London club's biggest English Premiership win of the season.

Lions coach Gatland is due name his squad for the three-Test tour of his native New Zealand on April 19.

That doesn't leave Robshaw, 30, much time to press his case but, in his favour, he should be that much fresher for a gruelling tour than all his rival back-rows who played in the Six Nations.

"For me the biggest thing today was about reintegrating the group back together from the injuries and the internationals," said Kingston, who had several England players available again after the Six Nations champions' bid for back-to-back Grand Slams ended with a 13-9 defeat by Ireland in Dublin last weekend.

"It's a brave man who discounts Chris Robshaw from the Lions I would suggest," said Kingston.

"His ability to come back today after four months out and put in a performance like that over 80 minutes is a reflection of the guy.

"Chris gets better the longer he plays - he just keeps going and going."

Newcastle boss Dean Richards, a former Harlequins coach, endorsed Robshaw's Lions claims.

"Chris Robshaw's an outstanding player and he's got huge leadership potential," said Richards, himself a former England and Lions No.8.

"He's equally as good as anyone the Lions will come up against in New Zealand - I would have him in my team every day."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Leicester edged out arch-rivals Northampton 36-31 in an East Midlands derby to give outgoing coach Aaron Mauger an ideal send-off.

The former New Zealand centre found out this week he would be replaced as the Tigers' head coach, with Australian Matt O'Connor returning for a second spell at Welford Road.

That made Saturday's game at Northampton the last of Mauger's current spell with Leicester.

He looked like leaving on a losing note, with the Saints' Nafi Tuitavake, Ahsee Tuala and Louis Picamoles all scoring first-half tries at Franklin's Gardens.

But the visitors hit back after the break, with England scrum-half Ben Youngs and Lachlan McCaffrey both crossing to add to Adam Thompstone's try in the opening 40 minutes.

Owen Williams kicked two late penalties to ensure Mauger bowed out with a win as Leicester maintained their bid for a 13th consecutive top-four finish that would guarantee them a spot in the title-deciding play-offs.

"It's obviously an emotional day for 'Mauge' and I thought he handled it really well," said Tigers coach Geordan Murphy.

"He didn't want the decision to affect the performance in the week and he did a great job in setting the team up to come to Franklin's Gardens," the former Leicester and Ireland fullback added.

Saturday's other Premiership match saw Exeter overturn a 19-5 deficit to beat Sale 30-25 in a bonus-point win that saw them go level on points with leaders Wasps, who play Worcester on Sunday.

Reigning Premiership and European champions Saracens, currently third, are also in action on Sunday, with the north London club at home to Bath.

Agence France-Presse

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Fri, 02 March 2018
Blues v Chiefs 06h35 Eden Park
Reds v Brumbies 09h00 Suncorp Stadium
Kings v Dragons 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Edinburgh v Munster 19h35 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Harlequins v Bath 19h45 Twickenham Stoop
Sat, 03 March 2018
Sunwolves v Rebels 22h00 Tokyo
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 23 February 2018
France v Italy 34 | 17
Leinster v Kings 64 | 7
Dragons v Edinburgh 12 | 25
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 21 | 10
Rebels v Reds 45 | 19
Highlanders v Blues 41 | 34
Mon, 19 February 2018
NWU-Pukke v UJ 18 | 15
Maties v CUT-Ixias 75 | 12
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 27 | 32
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 29 | 32
Sun, 18 February 2018
Dragons v Treviso 15 | 18
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13 | 7
Sat, 17 February 2018
Cardiff Blues v Munster 25 | 18
Lions v Sharks 26 | 19
Leinster v Scarlets 20 | 13
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 15 11 0 4 53
Exeter Chiefs 15 10 0 5 52
Wasps 15 10 0 5 48
Gloucester 15 9 0 6 42
Newcastle Falcons 15 9 0 6 41
Bath 15 8 0 7 41
Leicester Tigers 15 8 0 7 37
Sale Sharks 14 7 0 7 37
Harlequins 15 6 0 9 32
Northampton Saints 15 6 0 9 30
Worcester Warriors 15 5 0 10 27
London Irish 15 1 0 14 11