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Pumas mission takes edge off Robshaw's Lions rugby loss

© AFP/File / by Julian GUYER | England's flanker Chris Robshaw collects a loose ball after it went wayward from a lineout during the international rugby union test match against Argentina November 26, 2016


Chris Robshaw is determined not to let the fact he has missed out on selection for the British and Irish Lions cloud his enjoyment of England's upcoming two-Test tour of Argentina.

The long-arranged fixtures against the Pumas have been given added significance after Six Nations champions England and Argentina were drawn together in the same pool for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Former England captain Robshaw has experienced plenty of highs and lows in his Test career, including being skipper when the team suffered the embarrassment of a first-round exit on home soil during the last World Cup two years ago.

So, on that basis the fact the 30-year-old Harlequins flanker missed out on a keenly contested back-row place in the Lions squad for their upcoming tour of New Zealand may not rank as the biggest disappointment of Robshaw's rugby life.

"A lot of us have spoken about that, and yes we missed out, but we are very much looking forward to Argentina," said Robshaw at England's Brighton training camp.

"With a lot of players away (with the Lions) this is going to be a very challenging England tour, but it's exciting as well."

Asked if he has considered the prospect of being on the Lions' stand-by list, Robshaw added: "I think you park that. If something happens, fantastic, but if not, all my attention is with England, and that's where it will stay unless things do change."

A trip that could have gone under the radar has been given fresh relevance for Eddie Jones's men by the 2019 draw.

"Especially with the World Cup group coming up, I think that probably puts a bit more significance on it, so now every time we play each other that?s always going to be brought up, like it was previously when we played Wales or Australia (who both beat Englaand in their 2015 World Cup pool)," said Robshaw.

- 'Whirlwind' -

It was in Argentina where Robshaw made his Test debut eight years ago and the loose forward is relishing the prospect of s return.

"The last time I went on tour to Argentina was when I made my debut. It was eight years ago, it was all a bit of a whirlwind. I?m now in a very different position and I can speak to some of the guys who might make their debuts and I know exactly what they'll be going through, what they'll be feeling.

"I'm excited about being a senior guy. That was definitely a challenge going to Salta, making my debut but now I?m helping to grow the squad."

Robshaw believes England will face a more rounded Pumas side than the one he first came across.

"When I first played them they were very set-piece orientated and territory focused. Since they?ve got into the Rugby Championship they throw the ball around," he explained.

"They still have a very strong set-piece, particularly the scrum, but I think they have a much more free-flowing, attacking style now and do challenge you in different aspects.

by Julian GUYER

© 2017 AFP