June International Tours

Robinson: ‘England up for physical challenge’

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England captain Jason Robinson, who will lead a very depleted, second-string side on their two-match tour of South Africa, said that the World Cup holders are geared for a very “physical” challenge.

Speaking at a media briefing after the team’s arrival in Johannesburg, where they will be based ahead of the first Test, he described the trip as “a great opportunity” for both himself and his team.

England, who face the Boks in Bloemfontein on May 26 and Pretoria on June 2, are without almost 30 first-choice players – who are either injured or are involved in the Heineken Cup Final between Leicester Tigers and London Wasps this coming Saturday.

Robinson told the media gathering that the Springboks have world class players that will put his team through a rigorous trial.

“The Boks have world class players and it’s going to be a tough challenge for us,” he said.

“When we played against them in England I found them to be quite physical and the backline players were very quick,” he said of his last encounter with the Boks at Twickenham in 2004.

Robinson did not play against the Boks in the two-match series – which ended in a one-all draw – in November last year.

“We know what guys like [Bryan] Habana can do and the threat they pose, and we now have to match up to players like this,” Robinson said.

The 32-year-old England captain also said the current tour is ideal preparation for England’s World Cup campaign in France later this year.

England and South Africa are – as they were at the 2003 World Cup in Australia – in the same group.

“We have some experienced players and a few youngsters like Anthony Allen and James Simpson-Daniel who can stand up to the challenge South Africa brings.

“We have to show character and we want our players to become more confident as the World Cup approaches and for that the two Tests against SA are ideal,” he said.

Robinson has never toured South Africa and said he was delighted for the late opportunity to do so.

“I’ve never been here before and I certainly didn’t expect to ever come out here on tour after I retired in 2005. But I came back to help England in whatever way, shape or form I could and, being a World Cup year, it is a massive year for me,” the winger said.

“Every time you play South Africa it is a big challenge and very physical. But it will be nice to have some good tracks to run on over here.”

Robinson scored a try when England beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup Final and with all eyes on the defending champs, Robinson admitted that the pressure is increasing.

“Yes there is pressure to perform and to win, and not only for us but all the teams going there,” the fullback said before adding: “I don’t think we’re favourites to win it [the World Cup] as we have slipped down the world rankings but the pressure is there, it’s still very real.”

 

365 Digital

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