Chris Robshaw has been pilloried by past England captains and the British media for his controversial decision to push for a win against Wales – which has put the host nation on the verge of an embarrassing World Cup exit.
But he’s found an unlikely ally in former Wallabies skipper James Horwill.
Horwill believes the call to turn down a potentially game-tying penalty shot at goal and push for a match-winning try was the right one.
Robshaw’s decision didn’t pay off – with Wales producing a turnover from the resulting lineout and going on to hold on for a brave three-point victory, which leaves England facing a must-win encounter with Australia on Saturday.
But Horwill says he’d have done exactly the same thing.
“I probably would have made the same decision. I think he made the right call at the right time,” he told Sky Sports in the UK.
The lock, who has joined London Harlequins where he’ll be a teammate of Robshaw’s, said the decision to throw short in the lineout was one which backfired – as it left them close to the sideline and allowed Wales to force them into touch.
But he said the tactic to put their faith in the rolling maul, a tactic which has been of great success for all teams at the World Cup, was sound.
“His line-out call probably didn’t help him, throwing to the front.
“But you want to go and win the game. You are not going out there to draw.
“He probably felt there needed to be a swing of momentum.
“The maul that England have is a really potent weapon for them.
“I thought it was the right call but I think you have to give credit to Wales too.”
Meanwhile, Horwill says he remains disappointed to have been a shock omission from coach Michael Cheika’s World Cup squad – after again being overlooked following the injury withdrawals of Will Skelton (pectoral) and Wycliff Palu (hamstring).
“I had a good number of conversations with Michael after (the squad announcement),” Horwill said.
“He explained to me his decision, and I understand that and I respect that.
“That’s just the reality of rugby. There are people you have to leave out – you can only bring 31 guys.
“He likes to play two types of lock – a big ball-carrying lock and more of a line-out orientated forward.
“I think the fact that a guy like Dean Mumm can cover No.6 and second row was one of the reasons I didn’t get in.”
Horwill also backed Australia’s ability to overcome the losses of Skelton and Palu, and insisted under Cheika they wouldn’t be overawed by the task of beating England at Twickenham.
A loss in the decisive Pool A match could leave them in dire straits, and potentially needing a bonus point victory in their final group match against Wales to progress to the knock-out stages.
“Our end goal is to win the World Cup. This is another step for us along that journey,” he said.