Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea has given an impassioned defence of his captain Chris Robshaw after England's World Cup disaster.
Several calls have been made for Robshaw to step down as England captain following the tournament, while the choice may be taken out of his hands under new England boss Eddie Jones.
Robshaw has returned to action in the Premiership and Challenge Cup with Harlequins but is yet to speak out on his future role with the national side.
"He could easily have reacted, have come out and said some spiteful things back to people," O'Shea explained to reporters.
"He could have said what he thought. I could have said what I thought about some of the people who were talking, but he didn't. He kept his counsel, he's done what he's always done and he's got on with it.
"Some people have said they'd like to see him come out and say something but that just creates a headline and ill will.
"You can see I get irritated by it because I'm unbelievably protective of someone I think deserves a heck of a lot more than some of the cheap jibes that have been directed at him. That's all they are – very cheap, very populist, very easy."
O'Shea went on to suggest that England's nightmare campaign could actually be used as a positive moving forward ahead of the 2016 Six Nations.
"In a weird way, England not succeeding in the World Cup has actually given huge motivation to a lot of players they might not have had if they'd won the World Cup," added O'Shea.
"If they had, who's to say they would have had an Everest to climb? Now they have got something completely different to prove.
"He was always going to be on a hiding to nothing in the World Cup. I think as a rugby player, a bloke and a role model, we should be very proud we've had somebody like Chris.
"I think he's just an outstanding rugby player – he's proven that. He's beaten Richie McCaw and the All Blacks, he's beaten Sam Warburton in individual battles. I'll pick the positives, some will pick the negatives.
"Opinions are very short-term in sport. One day you can be a hero, the next you are zero – as Dick Best (former Quins and England coach) put it, from back-stabbing to back-slapping, it's only a heartbeat.
"If we're achieving and right up the top, I've no doubt Chris Robshaw will be in the team."