Chris Robshaw yesterday admitted for the first time that he made the wrong call in England's devastating World Cup loss to Wales.
With his side trailing 28-25 in the closing minutes of the pool match at Twickenham, Robshaw opted to shun a potential three points and go for the corner with a penalty after consulting senior players.
Agonisingly, the lineout was fluffed, Wales hung on to win and a week later, England went out of their own tournament after being thrashed by Australia.
"If you had a time machine you probably would (change the decision)," said Robshaw yesterday. "But unfortunately we don't and you just have to get on."
As it turned out, a draw against Wales would have earned England a quarter-final against South Africa and Robshaw added: "If you had known all the results and how things would turn out you could have planned every game a bit better. That is not to be."
The fall-out has been profound, with Stuart Lancaster and his assistant coaches all sacked and Eddie Jones brought in. There were many factors behind the grim English demise but Robshaw spent some time agonising over the close call which hindsight proved to have been ill judged.
"That's something I did in the first month, thinking about what potentially didn't go well, what things would you have done different," said the Harlequins flanker. "You look at the way the game turned out and if we had drawn, what would have happened."
The aftermath of the World Cup was a horrendously trying time for the England squad and Robshaw in particular. Failure to fulfil evident potential was based on myriad shortcomings but the skipper found himself in the eye of a storm.
He was supported by family, friends, team-mates and the coaches at Quins, but he also sought advice and guidance from a man who knows all about the pressure of expectation as a former captain of the All Blacks.
Robshaw said: "You speak to people who have had those experiences. I spoke to Sean Fitzpatrick a couple of times and he said, 'The sun will come back up. It may take a day, it may take a week, it may take a couple of months but you will be back'. He hit the nail bang on the head.
"The first month was pretty tough. For myself and most of the England boys, your confidence has been rocked a bit. It's probably lingered in the back of your mind, but if you look at the guys now and how well they are playing this month, they have got it out of their system.
"You want to go out there, prove people wrong and be better than you were. There have been a lot of questions asked and as an individual you need to answer them and play well."
At least the dejected England players may have an opportunity to do just that at international level, if they are selected by Jones. But for Lancaster, Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt, the disappointing World Cup campaign abruptly halted test coaching careers which were due to go on beyond the 2019 tournament.
Robshaw expressed his sympathy yesterday.
"I've spoken to Stuart and the other guys," he said. "As players, we feel for them. Unfortunately, this industry is very tough. You cannot discredit the work they did because we didn't perform in the World Cup.
"They did a tremendous amount of good work. People have to remember that. As international sportsmen, managers and captains, you are judged on winning. It is tough."
What has also been tough for Robshaw is the speculation over the captaincy. He enjoyed a recent holiday to Brazil but returned to reports that Dylan Hartley is the front-runner to take over as skipper.
For now, after a meeting with Jones, he remains hopeful that he can retain the role but the reality is that he is destined to be back in the ranks as a contender at blindside - where he has played recently for Quins - rather than at openside, where he attracted much faint praise.
"Eddie is a good guy and we had a good chat," he said. "There were two people in the room and what was said stays between us.
"If he continues with me as captain I'd be hugely honoured. If he decides to go to someone else then I'd respect that decision and fully back the person who comes in. My mentality is first and foremost to make sure I'm part of that team.
"I want to be in the England shirt in the Six Nations. I want to be achieving and winning, whether that's as captain, as a player, as six, seven, eight, as a prop, whatever. It's about playing, about being part of it. Whether I am captain or not, it's about what's best for the team."
These are admirably selfless sentiments, spoken by a man who has retained his dignity through a harsh episode in his career. It is right for Jones to look elsewhere for a new captain, but Robshaw has been in fine form at No 6 and is a fine, consistent, resilient player who deserves the chance to carry on being part of it with England.
- Daily Mail