Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw may have described his rise to the top of English rugby as surreal, but England man-of-the-match Ben Morgan insisted he was to the manner born.
The 25-year-old Quins flanker led his country to a 30-9 triumph over Ireland to round off the Six Nations in style at Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day, after Wales had claimed a third Grand Slam in eight years.
The former Millfield School student, given a week off in Abu Dhabi by his club this week, has earned plaudits from across the game having seamlessly stepped in to the captain’s role, despite having only won one international cap before taking the job.
Interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has built a strong case to continue the job of rebuilding England’s reputation in the wake of a sorry World Cup showing and has been largely credited with the turnaround.
But Morgan insisted Robshaw, yet to be given the job long-term like Lancaster, has also played a pivotal role in bringing a squad of relative international newcomers together.
“Each week the team had improved and it has been such a great experience,” he said.
“I’d like to think everyone in this environment is making strides and the coaches are bringing out the best in the players.
“It is going to be a strange experience when this camp finishes. We feel really close and that is what the coaches have instilled in us.
“Chris leads from the front every time and makes the crucial decisions. He is the type of guy who puts everything in and he is a great leader.
“The longer we spend together, we are only going to improve.”
England dominated on Saturday, thanks a powerful display from a front five featuring Cobham’s former London Welsh and London Scottish prop Alex Corbisiero.
Forwards coach Graham Rowntree hailed Lancaster for dragging his country “out of the gutter” on Monday, but the former Leicester Tigers prop was also impressed with the Robshaw’s effect.
“We are born again and have come such a long way. It has been an emotional ride,” he said of the forwards.
“There is still more to come from this group of players.
“I’ve never worked with such an energetic and enthusiastic group.
“Chris leads the team selflessly. He speaks well and never says more than he has to. As a group of players they are a pleasure to work with.”
Quins host Bath on Saturday but they will be without Robshaw as he recovers from the rigours of the Six Nations campaign.
George Robson and Maurie Fa’asavalu have returned from injury in recent weeks, while Ollie Kohn – the victim of a facial injury a fortnight ago – has also declared himself fit to return.