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British & Irish Lions
Robshaw concedes Lions omission was 'tough'
ESPN Staff
May 8, 2013

Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw has admitted being left out of the British & Irish Lions squad hurt him but coach Conor O'Shea has backed his skipper to reap the rewards of a free summer.

Robshaw is expected to be left out of England's squad for their tour of Argentina, which is named on Wednesday, as Stuart Lancaster seeks to give some of his more experienced players a rest in the run up to the 2015 World Cup. But with the Lions touring Australia at the same time as England's trip to Argentina, Robshaw would want to keep himself battle-hardened if any injuries opened up an opportunity for him to journey Down Under.

In Robshaw's place, Warren Gatland opted to go for the likes of Dan Lydiate and Sean O'Brien for his back-row options despite their season being disrupted by injury. Mid-way through this year's Six Nations, Robshaw was not only seen as a nailed-on certainly to tour Australia with the Lions but he was favourite to be captain and the rejection hurt him.

"Of course it is tough," Robshaw said. "You think you are in with a good shout. I spoke to Graham Rowntree and he said I was close but that is not really a consolation is it?

"That is why the Lions is so special, it is so hard to be part of. You look at the competition in the back row, it is phenomenal the number of world-class players. Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it. Graham was very honest with me. He didn't try and sugar-coat things. It is a setback but it is about how you react."

And despite wanting to journey to Argentina with England, Robshaw accepts there is also a bigger picture than just two Tests against the Pumas and he knows a rest would do him some good after two seasons, having won 16 of his 17 caps as England's captain.

"When you look at first seasons, I always think a bit of adrenaline gets your through but the second season is the biggest challenge," he said. "From an England captain perspective it has been like that. There have been a lot of challenges thrown our way and it has been tough at times and it has been enjoyable at times.

"I am sure at some stage I will get a rest over the summer and I will embrace it with both arms and switch off from rugby. You always want to play for your country and to be captain is a huge honour.

"Sometimes you can get caught up in playing and it is easier for other people to see the bigger picture. That is why they are the bosses, because they have that long-term vision and they can see those things. I will listen to his (Lancaster's) point of view and I will respect that."

His club coach O'Shea has backed Robshaw to bounce back from his Lions disappointment and benefit from a summer away from rugby.

"It is a moot point when you have played as much rugby as Chris," O'Shea said. "Some players who were picked ahead of him have played hardly any rugby and everyone on the Lions will get a look in so they will probably only have played two games more by the time they get to the Test matches.

"Hopefully we will be playing right up until May 25 (if Harlequins reach the Aviva Premiership final). If Chris didn't go to Argentina he would be back in pre-season with us doing conditioning before the Lions tour is even finished."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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