Wallabies’ captains old and new have come out in support of England skipper Chris Robshaw’s controversial decision to push for a win against Wales and turn down a potentially game-tying shot at goal.
With England on the verge of an embarrassing Rugby World Cup exit when they face the Wallabies this weekend following that three-point defeat last Saturday, Robshaw has been pilloried by past England captains and the British media.
But Robshaw has found two unlikely allies in Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore and predecessor James Horwill.
Horwill said he would’ve made the same decision as Robshaw, while Moore showed his colours against the Springboks earlier this year when he turned down a shot at goal in similar circumstances – and was rewarded with a match-winning try after the siren to Tevita Kuridrani.
“As a captain, you make that call when you see it and you do what you think is best to win the game,” Moore said.
“Every captain would do that in that situation.
“Whether it comes off or not – there’s all sorts of things involved in that.
“But you make a call and you go for it. That’s probably the key thing.
“As a captain, that’s what I try and do.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika admitted he was shouting to take the three points, and the draw, against the Springboks as Moore opted for the more-attacking option.
Moore said it was Cheika who had instilled in him the confidence to make those tough calls, even if it was difficult not to second guess yourself in the big moments.
“That’s difficult to do because you always go through that,” he said.
“No matter how much you say you don’t, there’s always different options when you get in that position.
“Cheik has been great in terms of telling me ‘mate, just back yourself in those situations’.
“That gives me a lot of confidence. There’s no wrong option there. You just have a go.”
Horwill, who has joined London Harlequins where he’ll be a teammate of Robshaw’s, said the decision to throw short in the lineout following the penalty was the 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 had been of great success for all teams at the World Cup, was sound.
“His lineout call probably didn’t help him, throwing to the front,” Horwill told Sky Sports UK.
“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 remains disappointed to have been left out of the World Cup squad.
“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.”