England’s returning big guns shone for Harlequins in their 53-17 rout of Newcastle — but director of rugby John Kingston singled out Chris Robshaw after the match.
The former England captain missed the entirety of the Six Nations with a shoulder injury but returned on Saturday and helped inspire the south-west Londoners to their biggest Aviva Premiership win of the season.
Sonatane Takulua had put Falcons ahead, but after Quins came roaring back through Rob Buchanan, man-of-the-match Mike Brown, and Joe Marchant to lead 27-10 at the interval, Marland Yarde secured the bonus point two minutes into the second half.
However, Robshaw stole the show according to Kingston, who urged Lions head coach Warren Gatland not to overlook the flanker for this summer’s tour to New Zealand.
Kingston said: “For me the biggest thing today was about reintegrating the group back together from the injuries and the internationals.
“Mike Brown rightly gets the attention with the man of the match but there were several other players who could’ve taken that mantle — and it’s a brave man who discounts Chris Robshaw from the Lions I would suggest.
“His ability to come back today after four months out and put in a performance like that over 80 minutes is a reflection of the guy.
“Chris gets better the longer he plays; he just keeps going and going, you would never know that he’s been out.”
Mathew Luamanu, Danny Care, and Tim Swiel also scored in the second half for the hosts as they clicked through the gears, meaning Mark Wilson’s try was no more than a consolation for the visitors.
Newcastle’s director of rugby Dean Richards believes his side were stung by England’s stars returning after a smarting defeat by Ireland.
“With the England boys coming back, they had a point to prove after the Ireland game — had they won it might’ve been different but they had a point to prove,” he said.
“The team they left behind had been faring very well and doing really well so it probably was the wrong time to catch Harlequins.
“But having said that we still gifted them so many points on the day and that’s probably the most frustrating thing. “Chris Robshaw’s an outstanding player and he’s got huge leadership potential. He’s equally as good as anyone the Lions will come up against in New Zealand — I would have him in my team every day.”