Chris Robshaw: "We'll Work the Hardest to Be the Best"

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Check the tackle count after most matches and you’re more than likely to see England No7 Chris Robshaw sit atop that list. Appointed captain in 2012 with only one cap to his name, he’s now cemented his place as the leader of the Red Rose, helping the team win 23 of the 39 matches he’s now played. And with his club Harlequins – playing in the shadow of Twickenham, where all England’s World Cup games will be played – he's earned two player of the year awards and won the Premiership in the 2011-12 season.

With all eyes on the home nation ahead of the Rugby World Cup, MF caught up with the 1.88m, 110kg openside flanker as he prepares to lead his country into the biggest tournament of their lives.

Here he explains why England will be the tournament’s fittest team, what helps him survive pre-season training and the team-mate he steers clear of in grappling showdowns.

The fittest team will have the biggest edge.

We will work the hardest until we are the fittest team at the tournament. Every game will push us to the limit and if we are in peak condition there is no reason why we can’t do well.

Focusing on the rewards of tough pre-season training is the only way to get through it.

Push yourself and think about the success it will bring in the future, no matter how gruelling it is at the time. You will reap the benefits.

I’d back myself against most guys on the rower.

I don’t have any records in the gym but I do enjoy using the rowing machine. It’s a good way to challenge your cardio, but stamina doesn’t really have a quick drill. Speed variation running is good: jog, sprint, jog, sprint. Doing this replicates the stop-start nature of a match and allows me to go out and perform every week.

Forget the bleep test – the Yoyo Test is brutal.

It’s similar but you sprint to a cone and back within a time limit, rest very briefly, then repeat. It means you have to recover instantly. I wouldn’t say I detest it as it is worthwhile, but it’s seriously tough.

Australia’s Michael Hooper and Wales’s Sam Warburton stand out.

I play against some of the fittest, strongest guys week in, week out, but those two openside flankers deserve special mention. I expect them to have a big impact at this World Cup. Both are great players and vital for their teams.

A big part of our training involves grappling and MMA drills.

I do my best to try and avoid [Harlequins prop] Joe Marler, he is a master of the dark arts. A lot of the guys down at Quins are pretty strong, but watching our young tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler on the bench press is pretty impressive. He doesn’t even look like he's trying.

I've got a big sweet tooth.

After a match or training I usually head straight for the nearest MaxiNutrition protein bar or shake. I prefer the bars as that gets me my chocolate fix. Straight after the game is when the recovery begins. Getting the right nutrition inside of you and stretching is always important. You also have to be aware if anything feels a bit tight – this will usually mean getting a massage and having a bit of physio.

I'm not one for counting calories.

It’s not so much a target as ensuring your body is always fuelled with the correct nutrition so that you can perform. You tend to know when you haven’t got enough fuel in the tank. I find MaxiNutrition’s gels are useful at the right time, especially when you are going through a lull, they give you the boost you need.

After a win I treat myself to a victory take-away, usually a Chinese.

It's not often I allow myself a cheat meal. During the week is when I try to eat as well as possible, but if we win at the weekend that’s the time to relax the rules a little.

The best word to describe Stuart Lancaster is “determined”.

That's the best way to describe the way our head coach has prepared the squad, to get us in shape, both mentally and physically, for what will be a terrific challenge.

Chris Robshaw is an ambassador for MaxiNutrition – the sports nutrition product that’s recommended by experts and chosen by champions. Click here to find out more.