Haskell will fight to earn a return to England squad

03 October 2017 05:24

James Haskell insists he can fight back into the England reckoning despite admitting he is "halfway down the cliff" on his climb back towards Eddie Jones' squad.

Haskell was omitted from head coach Jones' Oxford training squad late last month, and has conceded he could have few arguments given his patchy form.

The 32-year-old Wasps forward has struggled for form after recovering from a finger injury, with youngsters Sam Underhill and Tom Curry nudging ahead of him into the latest England training ranks.

The 75-cap flanker forced his way onto the summer's British and Irish Lions tour as an injury replacement, and is now intent on reasserting his Test status with England.

Asked to assess his latest Test position, Haskell replied: "I'd say I'm probably halfway down the cliff, maybe holding onto a shrub!

"Or I'm on a rope and they've lit the rope, very Indiana Jones-style.

"In all seriousness, it's just not quite clicking yet.

"I speak to the coaches at Wasps, I speak to the English coaches, I just want to enjoy it.

"It hasn't gone quite as I wanted so far, there's no escaping that. But you've just got to keep working hard.

"I've got no questions about missing the training squad. I'd played one game at that point, and did I play the house down? No.

"I've got no worries on how to get into that squad and how to get myself out of that squad!

"Eddie (Jones) only picks on form, he may surprise people, but that's the genius of him and his coaching staff.

"So if he called me up today and said I wasn't in the squad I wouldn't be able to say anything other than 'OK', and get on with it.

"I need more peaks than troughs in games if I've got any desire to fight my way back into England, which is going to be very hard."

Haskell's confidence he can reverse his short slump in form stems from his previous battles to extend his Test career.

The Wasps academy graduate at one point feared his Test run would not reach 50 caps, and he also fretted over whether new boss Jones would include him after England's failure at World Cup 2015.

Haskell starred as England's man of the series in the summer 2016 tour series whitewash of Australia, but then had to endure months sidelined with a serious toe injury.

"If you were interviewing more towards the end of the week I might be in a more light-hearted mood," said Haskell.

"But I care about winning, about this club and I want to play for England more than anything else, it's why I play rugby and it's such a great team to be a part of.

"I've just got to go out and play well, it's not about thinking too much or trying too hard, and I've got every confidence that I can come back and be involved and do what I want to. If I didn't, then I'd probably just retire."

Source: PA