Wasps back row highlights England hopes

Bucks Free Press: James Haskell James Haskell

JAMES Haskell says he won his place in the England squad by first winning his battle for a club shirt at Wasps, and he plans to do so again in a bid to nail down a Six Nations spot.

Haskell has 50 caps to his name but an injury during the autumn internationals saw him slip out of contention.

However, the 28-year-old still has high hopes.

He said: “I want to keep playing with England, but you’ve got to focus on Wasps as an initial target.

“There are good players here but if I can look after my game and think I’ve done better than Joe Launchbury or Sam Jones or whatever, then I’ve stayed in the mix and that will translate to the England side.

“That’s how I got into England in the first place. I fought it out with Lawrence Dallaglio, with Joe Worsley, with Jonny O’Connor.

“I had them as competition and got that battle right. If I can win the battle against these boys, who will have England careers, then hopefully I’ll get that white shirt again.”

Wasps have traditionally been strong in the back row and this year is no different, with Ashley Johnson, Nathan Hughes, Ed Jackson and Guy Thompson all getting plenty of game time.

Haskell said: “At Wasps I’ve got a lot of competition. I have to stay on top of my game to stay in the side and every time Dai [Young] gives me an opportunity I’m just trying to go out there and play well.

“That’s trying to be as defensively ruthless as I can, trying to be strong with a few turnovers and trying to get my hands on the ball.

“It’s difficult to have those big runs if we don’t get past the first phase, but I’ll just keep hammering away.

“I feel better than I’ve felt in three or four years and every game I feel like I’m showing what I can do.

“All I can do is play what’s in front of me, and it’s not like I’m going into England for the first time. I’ve got 50 caps now and they know what I’m about.

“The guys who played in the autumn played extremely well and I’m obviously down in the pecking order, but you’ve just got to keep knocking on that door and I won’t give up.”

Meanwhile, director of rugby Dai Young believes Haskell was back to his best against London Irish.

He said: ““If it was a TV game he’d have been very close to Man of the Match. His defensive display was excellent. He keeps talking about improving his carrying game and I thought he carried very strongly.

“Obviously he’s got that experience as well and he talks really well out there.

“But what a lot of people don’t see is some of the tight work he does. He makes tackles, slows their ball down and it always takes two or three people to move him from the ball.”


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