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House of Rugby

17th Oct 2018

“I think Eddie has lost my number” – James Haskell brutally honest on England recall chances

Patrick McCarry

– House of Rugby, Together with GUINNESS –

Honest and unflinching as ever from James Haskell.

Heading into the November internationals, England head coach Eddie Jones will have to plan without a host of top stars. 16 leading players are sidelined, with the English back-row taking a bad hit – Billy Vunipola (arm), Chris Robshaw (knee) and Sam Simmonds (knee) while Wasps’ Nathan Hughes has a potential suspension looming.

England will face South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia at Twickenham next month and will be desperate to build on their 25-10 victory over the Springboks, in June, that ended a worrying losing skid.

Watch the first episode in JOE’s House of Rugby podcast, Together with GUINNESS…

With so many injury issues, Jones may look to experienced pros when he names his extended squad later this month, but it may not include a man that helped England to Six Nations titles in 2016 and 2017.

James Haskell joined host Alex Payne and former England Sevens star Rob Vickerman on House of Rugby – JOE’s new rugby show – and he was completely upfront when asked if he was keeping his phone nearby in anticipation of a call from Jones.

“I think he’s lost my number.

“I haven’t heard from him, no. Should I have heard from him? This is worrying.”

House of Rugby

“I think if Eddie wants to have a laugh,” Haskell added, “he’ll send me a text, or pigeon. I think, if it’s any serious, high-level chat, probably not.

“I’ve got a good relationship with Eddie. We obviously talk from time to time. He mainly tells me I’m rubbish and what I need to go away and improve. I take that on-board and try my best to improve.

“That is kind of the circle we are in at the moment. And obviously, when you are in and around that [England] squad, guys like Borthers [England assistant coach Steve Borthwick] come around to the club and speak to you.

“You’ve got S&C, that’s strength and conditioning, coaches from England will come in. Neal Hatley [England scrum coach] will appear for a scrum session. We’re not worried about scrums, so I don’t really pay much attention to that.”

Haskell, who has made three appearances for Northampton Saints this season after his summer move from Wasps, will be 34 by the time the World Cup kicks off in Japan next autumn.

Asked if he still harboured ambitions of playing in what would be his third World Cup, he admitted, “It would be a long-shot.”

He had offers from clubs abroad – and has previously played in France, Japan and New Zealand – but opted for the switch to Franklin’s Gardens in the hopes of getting another chance to represent his country.

“That was my whole reason for staying… I wanted to put myself in the shop window and give myself the opportunity [to play for England]. You’ve got to go well and your club have to be going well for that all to work out.

“I think, if I don’t make the World Cup, I will consider what I’m doing. Whether that is finishing my career at Saints, maybe going abroad for one more stint or just calling it a day and becoming the fourth hardest working pundit in rugby, behind Rob Vickerman.”

Subscribe here to JOE’s House of Rugby:

Episode one dissects Freddie Burns’ howler, Leinster’s dominance, England’s injury crisis and everyone gangs up on poor old James Haskell.