Rugby - Brown hails Robshaw leadership qualities

England wing Mike Brown insists Chris Robshaw's outstanding leadership ability was evident when they progressed through the ranks at Harlequins.

Robshaw's stock as a Test captain has risen further with his man-of-the-match performance in Sunday's 12-6 RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland. The 26-year-old openside became favourite to skipper the Lions' summer tour to Australia after carrying the fight to Ireland amid a display of remarkable maturity and composure from England.

Brown holds his Harlequins team-mate in high esteem and said of him: "Chris has stayed the same person, even with the captaincy. He still works hard and is a brilliant leader and does for England exactly what he does for Quins."

Brown went on: "It's great to have a leader like that who sets the example and you follow. When he needs to say something he will. He's a great bloke as well - I've known him since I was 18.

"When we were in the academy we were asked who would we pick as a future captain and we all chose Chris. Now he's England captain. He was exactly the same then as he is now - he leads by example and works so hard on and off the field. He's a great character and always has a smile on his face.

"When he says something you listen and that's something he's had throughout his rugby career. It shows the type of bloke he is that he can step up and lead the team after just one cap. He's a world-class player and he's shown that recently."

England are the only team still capable of winning the Grand Slam, but must beat France, Italy and Wales to seize a prize they last claimed under Sir Clive Woodward in 2003.

Their next hurdle is fraught with danger as Les Bleus, who visit Twickenham on February 23, have been dire during their defeats to Italy and Wales, setting the scene for a typically logic-defying French revival.

"France haven't had the best of starts, but they're a brilliant team who on their day can beat anyone in the world," Brown said. "Look at how many times they've beaten New Zealand when everyone's written them off, so they'll be a tough, tough test.

"They have brilliant players throughout their squad and will be a wounded animal, which makes them very dangerous. But the boys are looking forward to it and hopefully we can do a job. It will be a massive test."